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advice for new middle school program

The high school where I currently teach (private 9-12) is in the process of adding a K-8 program.  I have committed to teaching middle school beginning the fall of 2017.  My administrator has asked what my "ideal" middle school program would look like.  This would include course offerings, curriculum, facilities, etc.  I would really appreciate suggestions from those who teach (or have taught) middle school since it's been quite a while since I have.  Thanks so much!   Michelle Henderson
on July 24, 2015 5:09am
You are a planner!  
I like the arrangement I've got.  Here is what it looks like:
2 classes in each grade level for 6 classes per day, 5 days per week for 50 minutes.   Seeing them daily at this age is critical.  I found that block scheduling was difficult for them.  They don't like to be in one place for 80 minutes, and when you only see them every other day, they forget to turn things in, etc.
6th grade is open to all.  I mix genders.  We sing unison and 2 part treble.
7th grade is split by gender so I can work with the boys as the voice change begins.  I find that if I do the voice change work earlier than 8th grade, they are much less likely to drop into the basement when their voices truly change.  I allow beginners to join.  
8th grade can go a couple of ways:  
#1  One advanced (no new kids) Mixed and one beginning choir (treble or mixed depending on how many boys you've got).
#2:  Split by gender without regard to ability.  The boys voices drop more during 8th grade so it can be good to split by gender especially if you are in a school where they place new kids in your 8th grade choir randomly.
It took a while to build the choral program.  I taught general music 3 periods a day and chorus 3 periods a day for two years.  I enjoyed that too, although many choral teachers seem not to enjoy that too much.    Best of luck to you!
Dale Duncan
Creator of S-Cubed Middle School Sight Singing Program for Beginners:
My blog for Middle School Teachers:
My YouTube Channel:
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 24, 2015 6:00am
Ask for an accompanist!
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 25, 2015 12:19pm
Hi Michelle
For materials that are ready to go, written just for 
middle school choirs and just plain fun to sing, try The songs are all original, 
Age appropriate and come with
scores, lyrics and recordings - all on line and free. 
Teachers  and students can download all the 
materials they need and can be used both in
and out of class time. 
on July 28, 2015 7:22am
Split all the classes by gender. 
DO see them all daily. As Dale said, it is very important!
Don't worry about voice change in boys - it will happen, we all know it will happen.  Instead, make them sing in parts, always.  The earlier you get them singing in parts and reading different lines the better they will be.
Of course this goes back to seeing them daily.  You can mix your classes when needed, or if combining with other choirs.  It's a simple thing to teach all choirs the same song, but the actual teaching part, I personally find,
goes much better in gender segregated classes.
You've got a multitude of ways to split the choirs if you continue teaching your 9-12 group.  You can add tenor and bass voices to your SSAA groups of either gender, have an all female or male group for SATB work..  many options.
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