Change it Up

I like change.  Not major changes, but small changes that break up the monotony of the day.  I can get in to ruts much too easily, so small changes, assuming they are positive changes, can be rejuvenating for me.  Because of this, I am always looking for ways to change it up as I teach Chorus on block scheduling.

Recently, I have been reading about various ways of standing singers in the choral ensemble.  The goal behind the various standing arrangements are, of course, to enhance the sound and the ability of the singers to hear one another within the ensemble.  I am always moving my students around to try and achieve a better blend and balance, so from day one I tell students to be prepared to move more than once throughout the semester.  And let’s be honest: I teach high school.  I’m not always moving you for the sake of blend.  Sometimes I am moving you because you just won’t quit babbling to your best friend.  Stop talking and sing!  But of course, I’m sure I’m the only high school teacher that deals with this, right?  Ok, I digress.

My classroom has risers built in, which makes it really unique.

My empty classroom after last year's spring concert.

My empty classroom after last year’s spring concert.

I am really thankful for a such a great space.  However, I have realized that because I’ve gotten so used to looking at the same setup each day, I have forgotten that there are better ways for the Chorus to stand in rehearsal.  While the students are somewhat angled at a slight curve, their sound is still focused only at me.  The sopranos rarely hear much volume from the altos.  They need to be in more of a semi-circle, which means breaking away from our riser setup.

And that’s just what I did this week.  After reading of some new ideas for standing arrangements, I realized this is just what I needed.  I got the students off of the risers and facing one another in new arrangements.  I started with my Advanced group.  They were perfectly willing to try it, and once we had our new arrangement, we started singing through one of our pieces.  The looks on their faces told me this was just the change we needed.  We were all (myself included) amazed at what a drastic change this move had brought about.  The students were able to hear so much more, therefore allowing them to create a much more beautiful blend and balance.

The beginnings of a new setup in rehearsal for one of the smaller ensembles.

The beginnings of a new setup in rehearsal for one of the smaller ensembles.

Another perk?  It forces the students to be much closer in proximity to me, which means I can more easily see if they have their cell phones out.  They have acknowledged that this discourages them from texting in class.  Score.

What sort of arrangement do you use in your classroom?  I am continuing to try out new arrangements within our semi-circle.  How creative are you with your classroom setup?


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