Lissie Quishenberry, La Crescenta, Calif., sent a photo of one of her eighth graders working with fifth and sixth graders in her choral music class. Lissie writes:
Our school is small, hence the choir includes 3rd-8th graders. I’ve had 8th graders complain of boredom, while 3rd graders are wide-eyed and sometimes bewildered by all the new information to take in.
One day, I took a handful of eighth graders, had them select instruments and gave them the instrumental parts for Shirley McCrae’s arrangement of “The Lone Wild Bird”*. The students and I worked out the parts, rehearsing twice before performing in front of the group, then in front of an audience.
Our next step was cross-age tutoring. I asked the 8th graders if they would be willing to teach the other choir members their parts. They were. Choir divided up according to which instrument they most wanted to play (it actually turned out quite even – I was surprised). Then the “teachers” set to work with their “students”, receiving 20 minutes of instruction and rehearsal time before attempting to play the song all together while singing it. (We’d been singing the song for at least 8 rehearsals and knew it well). It worked beautifully, my teachers were patient, the students receptive and serious about the task. The next choir session, we fine-tuned the performance. Our next step will be to have the 8th graders select the “student” that will best represent their team to play for our next performance.
Music Educator and Choir Director
Crescenta Valley Adventist School
La Crescenta, California
Published in Celebrate: A practical guide for The use of Orff techniques and materials in the church. Augsburg Fortress.