As the school year winds down, we hit the time of year where teaching is hard. The weather is turning nice, my seniors are picking up their graduation materials, the standardized testing is in full swing, and everyone is ready for school to just be over. However, it is during this time of year that one of my favorite activities happens - end of year awards. We have worked and grown all school year and now I have a chance to recognize them for all of their awesomeness!! Of course, student recognition is done in bits and pieces throughout the school year, but the end of the year awards are the icing on the cupcake!
For my music classes, awards day is an informal event held in class close to the end of the school year. Some of my awards are teacher-given and some are superlatives awarded by student vote. For student-vote awards, I hand out a voting sheet (be sure to keep reading to snag the freebie voting sheet and teacher cheat sheet!) However, the descriptors on the voting sheet only give students half the story. For example, one voting statement says 'The student that is always willing to help others." In actuality, the award is called The Life Saver Award and includes a pack of Life Savers candies!!
A couple of random bits about end-of-year awards.
1. My awards days are informal, so we feature some serious awards and some funny awards, superlative style. No one knows your kiddos like you do. If you go the superlative route, make sure no one is going to leave with hurt feelings. After all, this is supposed to be FUN, but not embarrassing.
2. *Personal soapbox ahead. If you don't like soap, hit the bypass!!** I don't care for the 'everyone gets an award just because' type of events. I have attended these types of events and it feels fake, forced, and devalues the whole point of getting an award. First of all, in life everyone does not get an award. Secondly, done wrong, this direction can lead to more harm than good. If awards are meant to be valuable and exclusive, giving everyone an award just for showing up diminishes the value.
With all of that said, here is a list of 28 fun, cool, awesome awards to consider for the end of the year! Scroll all the way to the bottom for your voting ballot and teacher cheat sheet *Freebie*
Superlatives determined by student votes
1. Most likely to take music class selfies
2. G.O.A.T Award: awarded to best piano player/singer/percussionist, etc.
3. Mr. & Miss Congeniality
4. Office Max Award: student who always has paper and pencil to lend out to others (throw in a pack of paper and pencils along with a certificate!)
5. Loudest Student
6. Lisa Frank Award: most likely to blog about kittens, rainbows, and unicorns
7. Clean Plate Award: student always trying to eat in class
--The following awards are candy themed, so thrown in some sweet treats!--
8. Snicker Award: student with the most unique laugh
9. Jolly Rancher Award: student always telling jokes or making others laugh
10. Mounds Award: student always having 'mounds' of fun
11. Lifesaver Award: student always willing to help others
12. Mint Award: for the student 'mint' for greatness
13. Starburst Award: for the student who is destined to be a star
14. 100 Grand Award / PayDay Award: for the student most likely to appear on a music reality show
15. The Whopper Award: for the student who always has a story to tell
Awards Given By The Teacher
16. Early Bird Award: student who usually arrives to class first (throw in some gummy worms because the early bird...well...you know!!)
17. Club 100: students who maintain a 99-100 GPA for the entire school year in music class
18. Repeat Offender: students who have spent multiple years in a class/ensemble OR in more than one ensemble (I had several 'repeat offenders' this year who were enrolled in both my piano and chorus class)
19. Senior Citizen Award: award given to graduating seniors
20. Rookie of the Year: awarded to an outstanding freshman OR first-year ensemble student
21. Survivor Award: student who stuck with it when it got hard (musically, academically, or personally)
22. Most Improved Musician
23. Always on Time: students with no (or very few) tardies
24. Section Leaders
25. Attendance Awards
26. Excellence in Musicianship/Sight-reading/Sight-singing
27. Participation in a special event, such as a volunteer performance or community service.
28. Mid-State/All-State/Solo/Ensemble performers
Wait! Don't forget your **FREEBIE**
Give your students the award ballot for their votes and keep the cheat sheet for yourself! Enjoy! Feel free to edit the document so you give only the awards you want to give :-)
What are some other awards you give your students at the end of year? Sharing is CARING! Comment below with your ideas!!
Many of today’s choral music educators are packing up our outdated libraries and making changes for the better, searching for repertoire that properly reflects our students, our communities, and our world. I firmly believe that a diverse program of music is essential to the livelihood of today's choral program.
As teachers, we want everything we teach to connect to students, and singing is an extremely accessible avenue for cultural exposure. We can sing the songs of all types of cultures and only need a room full of voices to do it - no special equipment required! This is a great way to approach introducing and exploring different cultures to your students. You may be wondering: how do we start the process of ensuring our choral programs and repertoire are diverse?
Before we assess our repertoire, let us first define what diversity is. For the purpose of this posting, diversity is considered to be any type of music outside of classical, Western-European styles. Let us now explore four main points that further aid and drive us in our quest to create diversity in our choral programs.
1. Abandon the idea of diversity being the same as world music. The term ‘diversity’ among many choral music educators carries a connotation of music from foreign countries. World music styles do make up part of a diverse repertoire, but we do not have to look outside our borders to find diversification. Consider the genre of jazz and the variations within that one style as we see it in Chicago, New Orleans, and St. Louis. How about women in jazz? How many of us teach and perform songs that represent Native American communities? Diversity in choral music does not have to mean music from a faraway land. There is diversity all around us right where we are!
2. Being diverse does not mean the removal of classical styles. Instead, it is the seamless inclusion of all styles. Thinking back on my days as an undergraduate, I remember my choral literature class where we studied what I like to call The European Choral Lit Hit List. But, what about more modern choral samples? I sometimes refer to my students as the “Glee Generation”. This does not mean that I exclude classical choral repertoire, but it does mean that I cannot deny the culture of my own students. Students should be able to see themselves in our programs. As long as the music has an educational purpose and meets our standards for rigor and excellence, why exclude it from the performance repertoire? Through the singing and studying of a variety of music from varied sources, students can learn more about their own sense of musicality and cultural awareness. Students can also better understand the concept of culture and of music as a cultural component if steps are taken to utilize diversifies music.
3. There is a difference between performing a song that sounds authentic and a song that actually is authentic. Diversity in choral music education is best appreciated when the repertoire is genuine. Students respond to authentic learning in all content areas, and within choral music education, that authenticity applies to our repertoire selection. A song with known roots to a specific African or Latin American country is going to produce an authentic response when compared to a song that only imitates the perceived sounds of the country instead. It is always beneficial to research the background and context of the music we select.
I have found the internet tremendously useful for this, but oftentimes my students and their families are my greatest resource. We performed a lovely song from Mexico one year for a spring program. One of my students, a soprano originally from Mexico, took a sudden interest in the song and mentioned, under her breath, that the English text at the bottom was not a translation of the Spanish at the top. I encouraged her to not only properly translate the text, but to also help teach the class the proper Spanish diction. Singing a song from her native country allowed her to become a leader and the class expert on that piece. Before this experience, she had been uninvolved in the class. However, after this experience, there was a noticeable increase in her overall engagement and interest. She later confided in me that she loved to sing at home, but was never interested in singing at school because she felt that the music she enjoyed at home was treated like a novelty item and not accepted as ‘real music.’ Now, she has a connection to the class and curriculum because she was invited to be a part of the learning process.
If an in-school resource is not available, music publishers such as EarthSongsChoralMusic.com and WorldMusicPress.com focus on authentic multicultural choral literature and often offer diction practice tracks and other valuable resources. Consider reaching out to local cultural centers and international organizations. Volunteers are often very willing to help with translations, create diction tracks, and educate us and our students on the context of the music we share. It is a beautiful experience for our students and the community.
4. Approach diverse music as an inclusive concept, instead of the exclusive ‘our’ music and ‘their’ music. We strive to unify our ensembles through the inclusion of a variety of musical styles and concepts, but our approach cannot be ‘ours vs. theirs’ which can inadvertently come across as ‘right vs. wrong.’ It is all music and a diverse repertoire showcases our uniqueness without promoting one to be better, worse, right, or wrong. I once read an article that proposed introducing music alongside the various awareness months, such as spirituals in Black History Month and Spanish-language tunes during Hispanic Heritage Month, but this approach is still exclusive because spirituals have musical value outside of Black History Month. Cultures intermingle in the world while maintaining their identities, just as musical diversity should be in our choral classrooms. Our students should see variety in the full curriculum, not singled out as being relevant for a month or two.
Addressing these four points may take some time, but it is so rewarding. There are large amounts of music waiting and ready to be explored if we set aside the time to think globally as we function in our local capacities. We can show our students and communities that all are welcome to take part in the musical art form of choral music. The choral music classroom is a safe place to sing, share, and connect as part of a cultural exchange that we, as choral directors, help facilitate. We cannot always take our students to see the world, but we can bring more of the world to them through the music we share.
Goodkin, D. (1994). Diverse approaches to multicultural music. Music Educators Journal, 81(1), 39-43.
Miralis, Y. (2006). Clarifying the terms ‘multicultural,’ ‘multiethnic,’ and ‘world music education’ through a review of literature. Application of Research in Music Education, 24(2), 54-66.
Shaw, J. (2012). The skin that we sing: Culturally responsive choral music education. Music Educators Journal, 98(4), 75-81.
Article originally published on http://www.LeadingNotes.org
Looking for some sure-fire ways to set up your programs and utilize your diversified repertoire? Be sure to check my post HERE with some awesome concert themes! Be sure to snag the FREE printable, too!!
In the meantime, leave me a comment and let me know what you use in your own classrooms! I love to share ideas because I learn so much from you all here!
Happy New Year! At this point, everyone has had a chance to ring in the new year and start to face facts - it is almost time to start the second half of the school year. I always promise myself that I will use the breaks to get organized, find or create new materials, and do all those things that I cannot ever seem to do when school is in session. How much of that did I accomplish? NONE...and I have no regrets! I deserved the mental and physical break, and I hope that you all reading this did the EXACT SAME THING! For most people, the start of a new year means reflection on the past and looking ahead to the future. In that same spirit, I want to share with you a Well Fed Music Ed Best of 2015 post with features from the blog, Twitter, and Facebook! If you missed them the first time, click through and check everything out!
Top Two Well Fed Blog Posts
1. 20 Concert Themes that Don't Suck (with FREE printable)
2. Make Room for YouTube : Useful videos and links from YouTubers
Top Two Well Fed Tweets!
2. This article written by Ryan B. Jackson, Ed.D (click HERE to connect with him on TWITTER!) Make him a part of your New Year PLN!
Top Two Well Fed Facebook Posts
2. Afghanistan's First Female Conductor. In a place where music and education for girls is often banned, this wonderful young lady found a way. #ConductLikeAGirl
BONUS! One published article!
I was never one for New Year's Resolutions. If there is something you want to do, something you feel needs to be changed, then do it! Why wait until the New Year or next Monday or when the planets are rightly aligned. One idea that I will entertain, however, is the 'one word' focus because goals are more functional than resolutions. My word for 2016 is CONSISTENCY. My goal - again, not a resolution- is to remain consistent in all areas of my life to the best of my ability. I am so very, very excited about all that 2016 has in store for us all as teachers, musicians, music educators, and life-long learners. Here in the blog you can expect more resources like the concert themes, as well as more food stuffs because many of you have asked for more. I also plan to write another article or two because I found that to be WAY more enjoyable than I first thought it would be! Drop me a comment below and tell me what YOUR one word would be for 2016. I can't wait to hear what you have to say!
Make Room for YouTube
YouTube..the dwelling place of cat videos, epic fails caught on tape, and DIY hairdo tutorials. But, after a few long, hard looks on The 'Tube, I have come across a fair amount of useful videos. I not only use video clips during instruction, I also send students home with video links to further reinforce ideas and concepts that we have covered in class or to let them experience some of the cool stuff we do not have time to cover in class. For example, I can pull up a video of a person singing and have my students write critiques analyzing their posture, vowel formation, resonance and tone. Working on a song from a musical? Pull up a video of another school group performing a section of the same production for them to make comparisons. Piano students looking for extra songs to play? There are TONS of piano song tutorials that show how to play popular songs. One word of caution: YouTube is an open platform that anyone with a computer and internet connection can access. It does take some time to sort through the murky waters of YouTube content to find the really useful stuff.
For today's posting, I want to share an assortment of videos that I have personally found helpful. By the way, if your school system does not allow you to stream YouTube, my suggestions is to use the site WWW.KEEPVID.COM to download internet videos for offline viewing. It's a great option for networks that block YouTube or for working with no/slow internet connectivity. Now, look below and check out a selection of videos for general music, chorus, piano, and a couple that are just for the teachers!
General/All Music Classes
Katy Perry Dark Horse Cover : This video is total awesomeness and one of my student's favorites. Ten Second Songs created a cover of Katy Perry's hit song Dark Horse done in 20 different styles, 10 seconds each (my favorite is MIchael Jackson).
A Fair(y) Use Tale (NOT a Disney Movie) : This is a fun mash-up of various Disney films that illustrates fair use and copyright laws. This would make a fun introduction to the topic for students working on songwriting and composition.
Hayden Killed by Cell Phone : Christian Zacharias was playing a Haydn piano concerto when a cell phone went off in the audience. In response, he stops playing and waits for the phone to stop. He is also interviewed on the way distracted audiences make performers feel. In today's age of constant contact, it is a great concert etiquette reminder.
Mr.Bean - Salvation Army Band Carols : Here is one for fun! I show this sometimes when we talk about following the cues of a director.
Faintingly Funny Choir Concert : This video perfectly illustrates chorus lesson #1 - don't lock your knees.
Proper Choral Performance Etiquette : Tired of telling your kiddos to keep their hands to their sides and to watch the director at all times? Show them this! They will laugh, but you will also prove your point!
Worst National Anthem Ever : Sad to say, this happened right here in my home state of Tennessee. We always talk about how everyone should know the National Anthem - and I agree. But, perhaps, not everyone should sing it...out loud...solo...in front of real people.
Video Stroboscopy of Vocal Cords : This one usually grosses everyone out, but it is a great way to show how real vocal cords work. The day I show this video is one of my favorite days of the school year because watching my student's react to this is PRICELESS! This usually accompanies our discussions on vocal health and the anatomy/physiology of the voice.
The Piano Guys - One Direction : If you are not familiar with The Piano Guys, PLEASE go check out everything on their YouTube page (especially the Cello Wars/Star Wars parody video...don't question me, just go check it out!!!) Their rendition of this popular One Direction song will leave your students in awe at the unconventional ways they use every part of the piano. Even my students who dislike One Direction love this!
Hazel Scott on Two Grand Pianos : This is another personal favorite of mine. Hazel Scott was a phenomenal pianist, and this scene from the movie The Heat's On is sure to impress!
Victor Borge - Page Turner : This. I almost didn't show my students this, but I'm so glad I did. I had one particular class that was filled with very serious - almost too serious - piano students. I wanted them to see another side of the classical pianist, and Victor Borge came to mind. He was very talented, and very much true to himself while on stage. If you want to give students a sense of putting their own personality into their craft, this will do it. I thought they would find it too corny, but they LOVED it, so I sent them home with links to a few others.
For You, the Teacher
Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir Live : The name Eric Whitacre is usually said in the same breath as 'musical genius.' He is an innovator in the world of choral music, and his TED Talk with the Virtual Choir is beyond inspiring. It will remind you that the music your student's make is meant to be shared with their peers, families, community, and ultimately the world! Also, if you are on Twitter or Facebook, follow his accounts HERE and HERE. You will be encouraged, but you will also laugh and laugh some more!
Benjamin Zander - The Transformative Power of Classical Music : Watch this video on the days you feel like what you do doesn't matter. There is power in music. ALWAYS remember that.
This video is not on YouTube - well, technically it is, but I really, really wanted to link to the original on this one. Just a little reminder - don't forget to ENJOY music!
There are SO many good videos out there that deserve a spot on someone's list. I don't have room for them all here, but PLEASE share a link or two in the comments here or on the Well Fed Facebook page.
~Well Fed Music Ed
I am a music educator and lover of all food stuffs! Thank you for spending some of your day with me here on my blog. Read more...