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Anyone run a school choir?

(6 Posts)
Tillyscoutsmum Thu 25-Aug-16 10:47:57

Just looking for tips really. I've just completed my NQT year and start at a new school next week. I have been asked to run one of the choirs (years 3 & 4). I'm not musically trained but do enjoy singing but I haven't really had any experience of running a choir.

Does anyone have any tips? Any particular songs that have been a big hit? Any 'must do' warm ups? Is it worth becoming a member of Sing Up or is it better just to choose songs and then buy backing tracks individually?

Notacluetoo Mon 29-Aug-16 21:01:53

I'm a fairly experienced choir leader - I'm currently working in a primary school and have 2 choirs. The Junior choir is years 2-3 and Senior choir is 4,5 and 6. Finding material is easy - ask the kids what they like! Pick songs you like. We've sung songs by Coldplay (Fix you, Paradise) Kelly Clarkson (Breakaway), James Bay (hold back the river), Rufus Wainwright (Hallelujah) etc etc.. My principle is that my job is to get the kids to love singing. I never audition for places or limit numbers. People might be sniffy about pop songs but the parents love to see their children enjoying singing and just performing. They'll often learn the lyrics between one week and the next just by singing at home. You can get backing tracks off YouTube or there are "karaoke" companies who do reasonable backing tracks (there's one called Ameritz which fairly regularly has 24 hour sales where all their tracks are 29p!) I haven't used Sing Up as its really expensive - it's several hundred pounds for a primary school our size. You don't really need it for a once a week choir (Unless senior management are happy to pay for it!) Other people writing suitable songs for the age group are Out of the Ark, or are good as you can buy individual songs for a couple of quid, and they have more topic-based songs. As long as you are confident to sing in front of them, the children will go along with you. Once they're singing, you can work on the finer details - working on entries (coming in at the same time) changes in dynamics, phrasing and where to breathe, how to stand and hold themselves etc. You might even be able to get them at add some harmonies! I hope that's useful! Best of luck!

Tillyscoutsmum Tue 30-Aug-16 10:02:23

Thank you so much! That's really helpful 😊

Sellertape Wed 31-Aug-16 14:07:01

Brilliant advice from Notacluetoo - I run several school choirs and YouTube is a godsend!

One thing I would add - although you should always aim to keep it happy / fun etc, keep an eye on attendance. If it's a lunchtime club then there will likely be loads of interest at the start and then a few will stop coming-that's fine, but by the 3rd week make sure you take a register and insist on regular attendance if you're working on a performance. You can do this in a positive way, but the kids sometimes don't realise that they need to come every week because you'll no doubt be really nice to them. Stickers for 100% attendance per 4 weeks etc or something....and later on maybe organise a trip out to somewhere for the regulars-care homes are always very accommodating at Christmas time and it gives the kids a chance to look cute and sing some Christmas carols!

Thanks for the tip re. Breakaway, Notacluetoo-I do find it tricky to find pop songs with no dodgy words and suitable content. Disney is always good and
I'm using a lot of songs with the word 'friend' in the title at the mo-'Thank you for being a friend'; 'You got a friend in me'; 'You Got a Friend'; as well as 'Count on Me', and erm, 'Fight Song'.....grin

Ionacat Wed 31-Aug-16 14:23:14

If you are using pop songs, then check the key carefully. At year 3/4 they really shouldn't be singing much below a middle C with a range of an octave or 9th. Most pop songs are often much lower and have a wider range and you can damage their voices if you aren't careful as they will try and belt. We get them then at 11, absolutely refusing to sing in their head voice or sometimes above an A, as they "can't sing high" and have to do some serious work with them. They can it is just extremely underused. You are better off using arrangements (all types of music including pop music) specifically aimed at this age group as they will be in the right keys and have an appropriate vocal range. Look out for music arranged for young voices. Your local music hub might be able to lend you some for free.

Tillyscoutsmum Wed 31-Aug-16 19:51:57

Thank you for all the advice.

It's an interesting point about attendance. Our choir sessions are after school and I'm informed that some parents use it as free after school childcare without the children having much interest/motivation in the choir itself. Hopefully those will be in the minority 😁

I think I've chosen 3 out of the 5 songs I need for the first concert. I've got a few ideas for the others but I'll let the children have some input on the final choice. I'm looking forward to it smile

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