Choral Intent

What is Choral Intent? 

Choral Intent is the process in which a group determines what needs to be done.  

What does that have to do with Choir? 

Well, choir is all about the group.  At least it should be.

I know…you’re saying “Well, my choir (band, orchestra, theater) director was the one always in charge.” He/she dictated what we were going to do or sing, when we were going to do it, and how we were going to do it.  To some extent, you’re right.  The director is very important to the group.  He/she has to have a vast knowledge about music, where it comes from, background knowledge about genres and/or composers, conducting skills, interpretation skills, etc.  However, in reality, a choir director can only direct students.

This is the way I see it:

A director shares what they know and together with the students, they create something new and unique from anyone else.  No group will ever perform that same way.  It might be similar but it won’t be the same.  The same director could work with two different groups and the results will still be different. That’s because the overall group, although it has the same director, is vastly different.  It is inherently unique.

So, what does this have to do with my class (I don’t teach choir)?

I think it’s the same principle.  The teacher is just like a director.  It is your job to share knowledge that you have as it pertains to the subject(s) you teach. However, you can’t stop there.  You need to remember that the students have to take ownership of their learning. The only way to do that is to facilitate their learning by allowing and encouraging creation within the group.  It not only shows students how to work together more efficiently, the product is by far greater than it could be with just you at the helm.

Let me give you an example:

One of my choirs is full of 7th grade girls.  I can’t teach them like I teach the other classes, even the other one that is also full of 7th grade girls. I can’t teach them the same because they aren’t the same.  This group of girls has a large portion of dancers in the class.  These girls spend two, three, four or even five days each week at dance classes.  The days they have dance, they dance from 3:30-9:00pm.  WOW!  I didn’t have to spend that much time when I was doing theater!  We are currently getting ready for our final concert of the school year and we are working on choreography.  Most of the classes prefer to have me choose the basics of the movement with some input from the students.  This class, I knew needed to have some control over what they were going to put out.  It’s just the best way to get them excited about performing.

Let me give you an NON-CHOIR example:

When teaching 6th grade, I was charged with teaching my students about the Solar System.  Now, I could have just taught them the basics about planet, had them notes, etc. etc. Instead, I got them outside and we set up an experiment where the intent was to introduce the students to the solar system.  I didn’t create it myself.  I had already been taught this.  I was just sharing my knowledge.  The students were given a planet, moon or other space object to represent.  Then they were given the distances away from the sun.  Their job was to figure out how far away they would have to stand if one foot equalled x amount of miles.  It was awesome to watch and communicate with the students.  This took time but boy did they learn about distance.  After the activity, they wanted to learn more.  So I asked them to find out about the object they represented.  It was so much fun for them to explore, learn and share what they found out with each other.  I even learned tons more about the Solar System than I had previously known.

What is Choral Intent? 

Choral Intent is the process in which a group determines what needs to be done.  

To me…choral intent is when a group comes together and works together for a purpose.  Sometimes, they have to work on their own for a while in order to prepare for the group purpose but in the end it always makes it better!

Music and Collaboration

If you haven’t already realized I often think and communicate in the form of song, you haven’t read enough of my blog entries;) I don’t go through the day without having had many concourses of songs pass through my mind by the simple expresses of a word or phrase given to me in conversation with students, colleagues or family.

I was just reading an article about how bringing music and song lyrics into the classroom can impact the learning in your classroom.  The author even goes so far as to say:

“It’s amazing how song lyrics dig themselves deep into our minds and stay there our whole lives.

However, when we want to learn something and try to memorize it, it won’t stick as easy as a song will.”

That got me thinking.  

What do you when your WHOLE CLASS is all about music and especially song lyrics? Well, in my case, you try to make sure the lyrics mean something to the students.  You discuss them together, you listen to the student’s thoughts and feelings about the text, you try your best to make them understand why the composer and/or lyricist wrote the lyrics in the way they did.

But this article was about those OTHER CLASSES. 

“Music and lyrics can play powerful roles in the classroom. They can help students remember key content. They can encourage conversations. Plus, there’s great fun in creating music that relates to class content.”

That brought a thought to mind I’ve had many times before:

WHY AREN’T TEACHERS FROM THOSE “OTHER” CLASSES ASKING TO

COLLABORATE WITH THE MUSIC TEACHERS,

especially those that teach CHOIR?

The sad reality is…I don’t think we always know or will always know.

I know a lack of collaboration can occur because sometimes there’s a disconnect between “CORE” subjects and “Elective” subjects.

Intentionally or Unintentionally, teachers of so-called “CORE” classes think their class in more important and don’t see benefit in a class where you prepare music, therefore no thought of collaboration happens. But I’ve seen this happens with classes that are deemed “Elective” courses just like music is.

Sometimes, there is an expectation of the music class to work on specific types of music so, in this case, it could the music teacher’s reluctance to collaborate because it might interfere with “their plans” or required competition or even the expectation the community has for the required performances of this class.

I think a lot of times, it’s just not thought of.  Collaboration is often thought of within one’s content structure.  Math teachers collaborate with Math teachers. Science teachers collaborate with Science teachers.  Choir teachers collaborate with Choir teachers.  This goes on and on.  It’s there in excess once you hit the middle/junior high school or high school realm.  Everyone is thinking about what “I” need “my” students to do in “my” class.

I have had a dream for a number of years where the bounds of collaboration are broken.  Where a Math teacher can find ways to work with any other subject and make relevance.  I know this happens often with Elementary school teachers, but that is sometimes because that teacher teaches all subjects (at least they do in Utah). My dream would be that classes cross boundaries.  We get out of the mindset of mine and yours and think “OURS”. When the classrooms become OURS, then I truly believe that learning can be pushed past boundaries, past mandatory testing, past what I keep hearing people saying is wrong with public education today. It also means that our contents become AUTHENTIC, RELEVANT and REAL to our students because they won’t see anything other than a COMMUNITY. 

 

I don’t know about you, but if I get the opportunity to find a place where that happens, I’m going to grab it and run all the way there.  It won’t matter what it takes for me to be prepared, but prepared I will be and innovation I will see.