Here at Stanton’s, we’re aware of the rising number of music teachers working outside of their specialty. Cutbacks have forced many instrumental specialists to begin teaching choir-but never fear! In this series, we will try to give some advice on where to start, as well as recommending some “tried and true” products that will help you become a great choral educator!
Just when you’ve gotten comfortable with the daily running of your choral group(s), it’s time to begin preparing for Solo and Ensemble festivals. The general procedures for vocal and instrumental music are often similar, but there are some differences that new choral teachers should be aware of. This post will focus on small ensembles.
Conducting-Depending on the size of the ensemble, a conductor may or may not be allowed, so consider the difficulty of entrances and phrase endings when choosing music. Be sure to have at least one student who is able to give small conducting gestures for starting, stopping, and changes of tempo.
Doubling Parts-Unlike a brass quintet or a flute trio, most vocal ensembles allow for parts to be doubled. Usually there is a limit to the number of singers in an ensemble, but more than one singer may be on a part.
Pianists-Don’t forget to engage an accompanist for your groups. Unless they are singing a cappella, vocal groups will need an accomplished accompanist. If you must use a CD or electronic accompaniment, be sure your selection has a CD available.
Literature-Small vocal ensembles use the same music as a large choir of the same voicing. For example, a 3 part women’s ensemble (SSA) could use the same music as your women’s choir; a mixed group could use the same SATB music as your mixed choir. Not all pieces work well for small groups though, so use your state’s music list as a guide or check our website for suggestions .
As always, individual states’ rules vary. Please check your state rule book for more information.
Still not sure what to choose? Don’t be shy about asking for help, especially if you are new to the choral world. As always, the experienced choral directors at Stanton’s are thrilled to help you select materials, make recommendations, or give advice. Contact us at 1-800-42-MUSIC, extension 1 or visit our store. We look forward to seeing you soon!