Help with a beginning high school choir
Date: September 30, 2015
I am teaching one hour of JH and one hour of HS choir in a small high school. There has not been choir here for 8 or 9 years (the only music elective was one hour of band which is JH/HS together). I retired last year from the regular classroom and was asked to teach part-time and begin a choir again. So, although I have 31 years experience, I'm a beginning music teacher. The extent of my knowledge comes from playing piano and flute for over 40 years, as well as singing in various choirs. I have spent every moment possible in the last 5 months reading books, articles and watching Youtube videos.
In my HS choir I have 19 students....4 boys & 15 girls. The class was by audition only, so they all chose to be in choir....and they all have the ability to sing. The girls are super excited about singing and I was blessed with several outstanding voices and a really good alto section. They have a really nice blend and tone.
The boys, however are a different story. My main concern though is that I cannot get them to sing out. Their range is from G/F below middle C to about F above, so I have them singing tenor. Because they don't sing low, I'm having to modify some of the songs we're learning such as The Star Spangled Banner. I have them standing by the piano and I often play only their part, and I also sing the tenor parts with them. But, I can actually only hear one of the four singing. He has a very nice voice and can usually find his part, but won't sing out. They are all very shy, and I honestly cannot even tell if the other 3 are finding their part at all because their volume level is about a 1. This makes it difficult to choose pieces to sing when there's no bass and very little volume from the tenors. I need suggestions of how to work with these boys. I've begged them to sing out, bragged on them, and tried my best to give them some confidence but nothing seems to work. I need suggestions desparately.
Also, because everything is new to me, any suggestions on great resources you know of that would help me would be greatly appreciated. I need ideas and information on teaching them to read music and parts, warm ups, and proper techniques. I also need ideas of directors I could watch that are good...but use very simple techniques since I don't have any training.
Thank you so much,