Posts Tagged “assessment”
When we sing at MPA, we are evaluated by three judges on our stage performance, and by a fourth judge for sight-singing. The best score a judge can give us is “superior,” which is like getting an A, or level 5 on the FCAT. But how do judges decide on a rating?
This first link will take you to the judging sheet used for choral performance. You will see that there are three main categories: tone quality, technical preparation, and musical effect. Tone quality is, in essence, how you sing and what you sound like. This includes elements like our breathing and breath control, tall vowels, crisp consonants, and blend of voices. Technical preparation is how well we know the music. Are we singing the correct rhythms and pitches? Are we singing in tune? Do we come in and cut off where we’re supposed to? When we sing in parts, are the parts balanced, or is one louder than the other? Finally, musical effect refers to how we use our tone quality and knowledge of the technical aspects of the songs and make them musical. How are our dynamics? What about phrasing? Are we singing with expression? Do the singers respond to what the conductor is asking them to do? As you scroll down to the second page of the document, you will see the scale, just like the grading scales or rubrics that you are used to seeing in all your classes, that the judges use to determine their grades for each of the main elements.
I have also included a link to the sight-reading judging sheet. This also has three categories. The first is about rhythmic execution. Do we keep a steady beat? Are our note and rest values accurate as we sight-sing our rhythm example? The second category, melodic and harmonic accuracy, is used for our melody exercise. Do we sing the correct intervals? Do we stay in the same key? When we sight-sing in parts, as Concert Chorus does, is there balance between the parts? The final sight-reading category is called musical and tonal fundamentals. Here, the judge listens for tone quality, just as the stage judges do. The judge is also listening for confidence (everybody singing), phrasing, dynamics and expression. The judging scale is on the second page of this document, too.
Now that you know how we will be judged, think about what we’ve been doing in class. Are we earning an A in all those categories every day as we prepare? That’s our goal.
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We finally have our MPA schedule. The good news is that both choruses will perform on Friday, March 9th. So we don’t have to worry about Saturday. The bad news–well, really, not that bad–is that we are scheduled in the 7:00 to 9:30pm time block. This means that we won’t miss any classes. I know that some of you were hoping that we’d be leaving school early, but that’s not the case this year. We will be in the same time block as Okeeheelee Middle School and Independence Middle School, as well as a few others. In fact, one of the groups from Okeeheelee will be singing one of the same songs as Beginning Chorus, Music Like a Radiant Light.
Permission slips are going home today (Thursday) for Beginning Chorus and tomorrow for Concert Chorus. I hadn’t gotten the email when Concert Chorus met this morning. Please bring them back as quickly as possible, and DON’T LOSE THEM! I hate killing trees! We will talk about MPA more in class, because it is important to know what to expect.
Once we’re past MPA, then it’s on to new, fun music!
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The doldrums is a term that comes from the days when ships crossing the ocean all had sails and were powered by the wind. There would be times and places where the winds would almost disappear, trapping the sail-powered boats for days or even weeks. The term now is defined as a period of inactivity or stagnation–in other words, a slump.
Usually at this time of the year, particularly in chorus, we seem to find ourselves in the doldrums. MPA is coming, but we’re tired of working on just two or three songs, and we’d really like to burn all those sight-singing exercise sheets We want to get to the “fun” music, especially since we find out that the handbells classes are already doing that kind of music. So we slump in our chairs, we talk to our neighbors, and we don’t put 100% effort into our music.
So what will get us out of our doldrums? What will put the wind in our sails and propel us forward? Mr. Bailey and I are trying different things to keep you interested and excited. What suggestions do you have? Remember, our priority right now is performance assessment, which is just four weeks away. Any ideas?
In the meantime, you can listen to an MPA performance from 2009. The song is Ose Shalom, sung in Hebrew. It is very different from Hine Ma Tov, which Beginning Chorus will sing this year. I hope you like it. Listen to the the crescendos–they were pretty amazing!
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For those of you who are participating in an ensemble in the upcoming solo and ensemble performance assessment, I know it’s always helpful to hear the song you’re singing. I haven’t found all of the songs, but below are links for some of them.
If You Sing an Allelu–When you click on this link, scroll down the page, and you will see a listing for the song and three links to click. The first will take you to a recording of part one only, the second is part two only, and the third is with both parts together.
As I Walked Through London City–The only place I could find this online is on Youtube, and I’m not allowed to put links to Youtube in this blog, since it’s a school district blog. If you Google “As I Walked Through London City Berg” you will get a Youtube hit where you can hear a performance.
The Path to the Moon–Again, you will need to go to Youtube. Google “The path to the moon thiman”. There are two different videos of this.
I Will Follow–Unfortunately, there are no recordings of this anywhere.
Give Me Wings–This is a demonstration recording.
Blow the Wind Southerly–This is the link I had up last spring.
When You Believe–This sounds like a demonstration recording, but it’s here if you want to listen to it.
Good luck to all of you who are working on ensembles, and solos, too!
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You all have worked so hard to get ready for performance assessment, and I am so proud of what you have accomplished. I know that both choruses are going to do well this afternoon.
Whatever the rating we receive, it does not define us, either as individuals or as a chorus. As long as we give our best efforts, and do the best job we can, we have nothing to feel bad about. Nobody should ever have to apologize for being “excellent.”
I also don’t think I have ever been prouder of a Concert Chorus than I was of you on Wednesday, when you were working with Mr. Chase. You all stood for the entire class period, nobody complained, there was no parade to the water fountain, restroom, etc. You listened attentively and tried to execute everything he asked of you. Your actions showed how focused and committed you are to doing your best.
It doesn’t matter what the judges say tonight, I know that you are superior singers and young people in every way.
Wait a minute! I thought concert season was in December! Isn’t concert season over?
Well, no. For the past month, we have concentrated on soloists and ensembles, as we prepared for their performance assessment. Now, it’s everyone’s turn. For the next two months, our focus will be on concert MPA. So that’s why Mr. Houchins, the director at Palm Beach Central High School, made the comment on Saturday that this is the beginning of concert season.
What does this mean for us? Well, we will be working very hard on the two songs each chorus will sing at MPA. There will also be a lot of time spent on sight singing. We may begin to look at some music for spring concert, but since MPA is earlier this year, we will have plenty of time after it is over to work on that music. So if we sing through spring music, it will be for a break.
Just hang in there! The time from now to MPA will fly, and we’ll have Spring Break the week before MPA. And the harder we work, the more enjoyable MPA will be.
January is always a busy month for chorus, but this one is crazy! All-State Chorus is a week later this year than it has been in the past, so when I get back, there will only be two weeks to finish our preparations for Solo and Ensemble performance assessment. And when you add in the fact that the FCAT diagnostic test is the Tuesday and Wednesday before S&E, you can see that we are really being pressed for time.
What can you do if you are a soloist or the member of an ensemble? Practice! You will have to do most of it on your own, because our time together is very, very limited. Some soloists come in every day that there is morning practice, and some of you I have only heard once, in class. I do not want this to be a bad experience for anyone, but it will not be a good one if your aren’t prepared.
What if you aren’t involved in S&E? What can you do to help? Well, you can be considerate of those who are involved when we take time to work in class. That means, be quiet! Listen to what the singers are doing. Be a good audience if they sing for you. Offer constructive criticism. Be a friend. Remember, we’re all on the same team.
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