A FEW IDEAS
How can we get class started on time, when we have created a totally joyful, social atmosphere in our music classes? Creating a warm-up exercise that "gets the voice going" and "serves as a cue for class to begin" might be helpful….a warm-up that "reaches out" to connect the students quickly, so that all become a "team" quickly… for an hour or so.
Because of increasing educational demands, students and teachers need all the help they can get in all classes…not just music. Of course, choral music educators (and many others) truly believe in the value of our subject matter, but for the most part, the population at large has no idea as to the complexity of our art….the nuance….the analysis….the on-the-spot "fix-it" demands….the list goes on and on. Neither do we know the complexities in most "other" subjects, which we (and students) also need in order to live a fulfilling, happy life. Have you ever stopped to think about how delighted we all should be that others find joy in different professions? Maybe one must live "in rural areas" (as I do) to appreciate this fact with a similar level of gratitude. And…while all who assist us say, "this is my job," their eyes light up when I tell them I write music. While I see their occupation as the most needed element in my life at "the time," they see it as….nothing special. I could not live as contently…or do what I do without them.
I am not certain that we ever express gratitude as much as we should for music and all things "music" in our lives. We are fortunate to be able to attend concerts, create music for performance via ensembles, and "write music for others to teach ensembles who perform for concert attendees who choose to experience the joy of music." You get the idea….it is a circle of respect….a circle of appreciation and gratitude for others in the mix of our lives….not the least of whom are those wonderful educators who teach other courses that are not as "known" to us, yet equally important in order for our students to become well-adjusted human beings in a complex world. That's where the "Extra-Musical" warm-up comes in.
At some point in the daily warm-up component, you might want to select a warm-up that assists your fellow educators in teaching something about their classes that might be helpful to your students. It really can be a good thing to have your name mentioned around your school as giving respect for math, science, geography, history, language arts, and other fine arts subjects. You can do this in the warm-up, with a little cross-curricular instruction. How do you know what your students might be studying? You ask. At that point, I am certain your memory will take you back to your undergraduate studies and "other points of interest" in your history. Capitalize on this knowledge, and assist the students in possibly making a better score on future tests….because they have sung their way to "the facts" in your warm-up!
Frankly, the reason I became interested in cross-curricular warm-ups….my good friend Gayle Box works in Adult Education for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She and others have established a curriculum to assist our state's adult population in furthering their education in some way. Gayle's colleagues have found that the use of mnemonics is helpful to students as they prepare for required entrance exams, etc. You likely have used mnemonics at some point to remember facts (i. e., "HOMES" to remember the Great Lakes, etc.), and this process of recall can stay with us for our entire lives. I still think of some facts with a mnemonic.
As I was searching the internet one day, I noticed a mnemonic to remember the reigning Royal Families of England. To my amazement, I remembered that very question on the SAT from 40 years ago! That information would have been so helpful to me at that time….under pressure, wanting to get every question correct, etc. That's when I realized that if cross-curricular melodies would have assisted me, wouldn't others have benefited as well?
An important fact regarding Cross-Curricular Warm-Ups for Choral Rehearsals: They are written to be sung by choirs of varying voicings. That is, your young singers who sing only unison or 2-Part music can just sing the top line in warm-ups….your 3-Part Mixed choir can sing the Bass Clef, and not worry about the optional bass notes…your SATB choir can sing the warm-ups with ease, including the divisi at cadences. The set is very versatile.
Most importantly: Enjoy your School year….or Church year….or Community Choir season!!
Best to all!!