If the words “Elementary Choir” cause you feelings of anxiety, welcome to my world! I’m teasing, mostly, but I do find it challenging. Choir was part of my high school and college life, but most of the time I ended up behind the piano. That is where I’m most comfortable. I’ve never felt as confident with my singing, hence my hesitation with directing a choir.
Today was the first day of after-school choir. We meet once-a-week for about forty-five minutes. In case you’re wondering, that’s a long time to keep twenty-five 4th and 5th graders engaged and singing, especially after a full day of school. We are all tired, and ready for a snack and a nap. Well, I’m ready for a nap. Not to mention being hot and sweaty from afternoon car duty…
As I walked back to my classroom to begin practice, I could hear kids saying, “Here she comes!” And it wasn’t a “better stop what you’re doing” warning. It was more of a “Yay! It’s time for choir” comment. The room was buzzing with energy and excitement. Students helped set up chairs and everyone was seated quickly, ready to start. I went to the piano and asked them to sing a simple song for me. There was a risk they would consider my request babyish, but I needed to hear how they sounded.
“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” has never sounded so glorious! I am not exaggerating! Not only were their voices sweet and light, I could tell they really loved to sing. My smile could not have been any wider. After some up and down “ah-ah-ah” and “ha-ha-ha” vocal warm-ups, I asked them to fill out a short choir survey. I’ll get back to that shortly.
After the survey we learned the first part of our choir theme song, “Friend Like You.” One of the verses says, “I know with friends like you, friends that I can talk to, we can take on the world. There’s nothing we can’t do.” So simple, yet so powerful. And once again, their sweet voices singing this timely message made my heart happy.
We wrapped up practice, everyone went home, and I packed up my computer. Oh, and those choir surveys as well. Once home, I decided to read them. Oh my goodness…their answers. Most said they love to sing and want to sing better. Some admitted being shy or embarrassed. And then there was this…”I sing to my siblings at bedtime.” Remember, we are talking about 4th and 5th graders. I can’t imagine anything more precious.
Today changed my outlook for choir. This self-described awesome group of kiddos-who just want to hang out with their friends and sing-encouraged this exhausted, in-search-of-motivation teacher. Because of their attitudes, I find myself looking forward to next week. I will listen to those sweet voices, and teach them the rest of our theme song. Hopefully their enthusiasm will spill over, giving this tired teacher renewed energy.
Maybe elementary choir is not so elementary after all.