You Want Me to Teach Choir?!

If there's one thing I know about, it's getting thrown into a teaching position I never expected.  I taught K-12 for two years which included K-5 general music, middle school choir, and high school choir.  Though I had been in choir myself and had even student taught in middle school choir, it had been soooooooo many years, I might as well have been starting over.  I learned A LOT in those two years and I'm glad to pass on the most helpful things I learned. 

1.  Find a mentor teacher in the area.

Mentor teachers are EVERYTHING when you are teaching something new to you.  Go observe them, have them come observe you.  Go to see more than one person so you can see different styles of teaching.  You will learn more just observing and asking questions at the end of the day than most books will ever teach you.  Ask them to see their choral handbooks, sight-reading, and any books they recommend to learn about choral teaching. 

2.  Seek out professional development opportunities.

Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?  My choral directing and understanding of how to teach choir came so far in just two years.  Much of it came from going to workshops where I could learn from the best of the best.  Join your state vocal music association so you can network with other teachers who can point you in the right direction. 

3.  Check out Christine Bass  

(no, she is not paying me to say this--in fact, she doesn't even know me!)

If you need tips on how to help your non-audition choir and above learn the basics, this woman is for you!  I saw Christine Bass present and she was exactly what every new choral director needs in their life.  Check out her book and I guarantee it will help you.  She also has real video examples of what her choirs sound like at the beginning of the year and what happens along the way.  It's real life!

4.  Get some good warm-ups in your tool belt.

Don't do warm-ups just to warm-up.  Make sure your warm-ups are teaching a skill related to something you are going over in your repertoire that day.  Warm-ups don't have to be anything special, just purposeful.  Here are two books I found especially helpful:

5.  Give yourself a break.  

Realize that when you are doing something new, that you have never taught before, you are going to make mistakes.  However, keep in mind that you will slowly have successes too!  No one became a world-class choral director over night.  Be patient with the process and enjoy as your successes begin to build on one another.

6.  Give Back

When you finally get to the point when you know a thing or two about choral directing, don't forget to help out the band director who just got "stuck" teaching choir for the first time in their life!  You will know the feeling better than anyone else.

Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!

Please note:  Noteworthy By Jen is an Amazon affiliate.  Links may be monetized to help support the upkeep of this blog.  

Oompa Loompa® Costume Idea

Willy Wonka KIDS® is one of my ALL TIME favorite MTI KIDS® shows.  It has everything a child (and their parent) enjoys in a musical--great music, nostalgia, candy, bright colors, a funny plot, and lots of opportunities to showcase students.  One thing that may hold you back is the costumes.  While it can be a bit overwhelming, here is a simple and cheap costume for an Oompa Loompa!  The cost is around $5 per child. 

(Please note, I have no association with Willy Wonka or MTI KIDS, just a music teacher helping other music teachers!)

Supplies Needed:  

1.  Plain brown t-shirt:  I have students order them through me.  I have also found that parents would much rather send in $3 than have to go find a shirt themselves, which would likely cost more at a store anyway. A huge bonus of ordering the shirts together is they are all the same color and you can make sure ALL students have one (even if you have to pay for it!).

2.  Green tinsel wig:  I have used two different kinds over the years.  We had to cut "bangs" for each child on them, but the classroom teachers were happy to help!  You may want to test one out before you buy them in bulk--some shed a bunch and others don't.

3.  Glue gun and glue sticks:  Go with a big glue gun, not a small one.

Photo used with permission
4.  White felt (rotary cutter, mat, and ruler are helpful but not necessary):  Cut the felt into two inch strips and hot glue on to the t-shirt to create the look of suspenders.  Ask for some volunteers who know how to quilt and they will cut your felt for you in 1/10 of the time you could do it with regular scissors.  If you want to add buttons on the bottom of the suspenders, you can use a marker to draw a button, but it's up to you!

5.  Orange body paint:  Use cotton swabs to draw orange circles on the cheeks of your Oompa Loompas for extra fun!

Have students wear jeans or another type of pants they would already have at home and you are all set!  I normally have around 80 Oompa Loompas because they are my chorus.  If you cast differently and only have a few Oompa Loompas, you may want to invest in matching pants.  

You have created one awfully adorable (and cheap) Oompa Loompa!  Now go break a leg!
Photo used with permission

Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!