/, Cultivating Choir Culture, Holiday & Caroling/11 Reasons Why Your Choir Should Go School Caroling This Year!

11 Reasons Why Your Choir Should Go School Caroling This Year!

The most fun day of the entire year for my high school choir is Caroling Day. On this special day, we take our show on the road and perform brief concerts for rapidly changing audiences.

 

On the day before our Winter Vacation, we visit every school in our district. We begin by singing for our main office staff and administration while blasting over our high school P.A. into every classroom, and then we hit up a few spots in our school, before leaving on 3 school buses for the day.

 

From there, we visit four elementary schools, two middle schools, and central administration. We sing throughout every single hallway of every single building. If we see students or staff anywhere, we stop and sing. We usually stop in the gym and the cafeteria as well. We will perform for 1 secretary or 200 students.  We even sing when nobody is around, and wait for people to walk by.

 

Now that I’ve given a description of the day, I’d like to share 11 reasons WHY this experience is worthwhile!


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Here are 11 Reasons WHY Your Choir Would Benefit from Caroling Day:

11. This is an inexpensive (or free) performing opportunity that will have as great of an impact on the students as any “pay-for-play” concert.

I’m not saying that performing at Carnegie Hall isn’t a great experience. But the impact of caroling, especially if it is an annual experience, will hold permanent, intrinsic value for your singers.

10. Students can be empowered to lead caroling. 

It’s not hard to conduct Jingle Bells, Silent Night, or Deck the Halls. On Caroling day, my choir of around 100 students generally divides into two choirs; one or two seniors become the conductor/music director of each choir. These student leaders become responsible for choosing the order of the repertoire, giving the starting pitch, and conducting while navigating through the hallways. Sometimes the two choirs bump into each other in the hallways and have a Caroling Duel. By empowering students to lead, we end up empowering all students to work together. This is a great time to step back and let them step up as an ensemble; it will pay big dividends in the long-run.


Holiday Caroling Packet; for Christmas and Hanukkah!


9.  Students will learn to become more focused on audience connection than singing perfection.

This is a great life lesson. Perfection is an illusion. If we teach simple, standard arrangements of well-known carols, students can improvise and/or personalize the music for their audiences.


Dreidel (SATB) – Caroling Version instantly downloadable, fun, and easy to learn!


8. Our singers learn how music can impact others.

Usually, during a regularly-scheduled performance, we are focused on our repertoire and following the conductor. We may hope to impact others, but we aren’t close to our audience members faces; we are usually on the stage and they are sitting in the audience. When we carol, we may sing next to our audience, around them, or even within them. We spread joy through music. This is an opportunity for singers to learn how to connect with their audiences on a personal level.

 

 

7. Caroling brings back the community-feel of performing music from past generations.

Remember the good ‘ole days when everyone had a piano in their house and took piano lessons as kids? The entire family sang during the holidays, and music was an active experience rather than one of independence and passivity.  This experience as a whole has eroded over the past 50 years, but caroling is the one time everyone sings again. Little children and adults sing along and our choir can become the impetus for community singing, which will no doubt spread joy.


Oh Hanukkah (SATB) Caroling Version – instantly downloadable!


6. Choir members can sing without taking their performance so seriously.

It is a valuable experience when singers just sing and have a great time doing so. Caroling is not a time to show-off, or singing difficult repertoire; it is a time to celebrate with each other, and with audiences, using music as the vehicle. If our singers are well-rehearsed with the carols, they can sing light-heartedly and joyfully. Save the “Hallelujah Chorus” for the mall flash mob.


10 Reasons to Retire the Hallelujah Chorus..especially with alumni!


5. We have the ability to recognize, celebrate, and musically embrace our community members.

Our culture has been tip-toeing around religion in recent years. If we recognize all celebratory holidays that are occurring, we can unite a community through music. By ignoring any or all holidays, we lose the most important aspect of music: to connect one-another.

4. Younger children aspire to join your choir down the road.

A high school choir that singers for elementary and middle school students will show their joy  and impact of singing and inspire them to want to join choir in the high school. Watching and hearing high school singers caroling in their hallways be a memory that will be imprinted in their hearts and minds, especially if we visit every year.

 

3. The Community will feel served.

If we want the community to support the arts, we need to reach them by serving as ambassadors of music, and ambassadors of the human connection. In additional to Caroling, we may choose to participate in community events or other events where community stakeholders will be present ; this may include local assisted living facilities, a community tree lighting, an interfaith ceremony, etc.


The Ultimate Developmental Sight-Singing Rubric


2. EVERYONE LOVES CAROLING DAY!

The choir loves it, the administrators at every school love it, the secretaries love it, the teachers who see their former student all grown up love it, and the little children love it. It is not a burden to anyone; it is a day of joy and celebration. Spread the joy, spread the love, share the music.

1. The choir will form a unique bond.

Your choir will share an experience that will create connections within the ensemble. The organic opportunities of interpersonal connection that occur as our singers perform in a less-structured way will foster new bonds that will permeate throughout the ensemble.


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By | 2018-12-08T22:07:01+00:00 November 28th, 2017|Concert Season, Cultivating Choir Culture, Holiday & Caroling|

About the Author:

Adam Paltrowitz is a master educator, composer, conductor, and clinician. During his 20-year tenure as the Director of Choral Activities at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School in New York, his groups have toured throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. He also has pioneered a philosophy that every student is a soloist. Adam's choral program has also gained great acclaim for the cultivation of eight student-run a-cappella ensembles; some of these ensembles have performed on national and local television programs. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by choirs around the world. Adam earned his B.S. in music education from New York University, M.A. in vocal pedagogy from Columbia University - Teacher's College, and Ed.M. choral conducting from Columbia University - Teacher's College. ​Adam resides in Manhattan with his wife, Blair Goldberg, a professional Broadway actress, and their daughter, Lyla.

7 Comments

  1. Bethany November 30, 2017 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Adam,

    Love the article and considering this for next year! Question: How do you work around final exams, important near-semester-end classes, etc.?

    • Admin November 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Our exams are at the end of January, so there is no conflict. What are the specifics of your conflict?

  2. Bill Colosimo November 30, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Adam—Great article. Thanks. Keep up the good work.

  3. Karen December 4, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Silent Night? In a public school? I am *not* one who advocates the elimination of sacred music, but music whose sole function is to celebrate or promote one holiday is simply not a good idea, for lots of reasons. (An additional note, lest there be confusion: “interfaith ceremonies” that don’t include non-Christians are not “interfaith,” they are non-denominational Christian celebrations. Most interfaith ceremonies that celebrate holidays don’t take place in December, unless they are solstice events.)

    Why not take your choirs out in the spring, with a variety of music that your community will know? Keep the community centers, assisted or senior living facilities, etc, and give your students the same experience without leaving out – or at best, making uncomfortable – some of your students. Because the teacher is orchestrating the event, there is a power inequality and it becomes extremely difficult for students to articulate their discomfort. And, frankly, adding one Chanukah piece doesn’t make it better, it tokenizes the holiday (and student) and exacerbates the problem.

    I simply don’t see how all of the benefits you list won’t still be benefits if you rethink this event and take it out of the Christmas season. Then everyone wins.

    Peace,
    Karen

  4. Admin December 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Karen,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and share your viewpoint.

    I do not consider representing holidays other than Christmas as “token” pieces. It is only a throw-away piece if the director presents it this way, and views it as less important. If your approach is to avoid all holidays, that is fine; I believe all music can be unifying if done tastefully and welcoming of all faiths that are celebrating during this time, as well as recognizing the winter time with secular songs as well. As for religions that are not festively celebrating during this time of year, we can still acknowledge their faiths and recognize the spirit of love and community.

    I do agree that “caroling” at other times during the year would be effective. We perform throughout the year at community events, nursing homes, and ceremonies. But performing other times doesn’t mean that we can’t use music to embrace this holiday season.

    Lastly, I’m unclear why you explained what an interfaith service is. The interfaith ceremonies in my community involve multiple Jewish synagogues, multiple Christian faiths, a Sikh temple, and a mosque. Each ceremony rotates in location annually. There are 3-4 a year, along with a community tree lighting, hosted by a Lutheran church that is intended to acknowledge the entire community. They ask us to sing music of other faiths, and we do.

    I respect your views and understand why you feel the way you do. Frankly, it’s a lot easier to avoid all holidays, which can potentially cause conflicts. I believe teaching our students to learn famous Christmas Carols and famous pieces of other faiths enriches their musical and cultural understanding of all student, and connects our choir to our community.

    • Karen December 5, 2017 at 7:57 am - Reply

      I added the interfaith bit because in the Midwest, where I currently teach but am not originally from, many people consider a service with Lutheran, Catholic, and Presbyterian “interfaith,” which is inaccurate. I did so more for the benefit of your readers, as my experience with that term (in this part of the country) was different than your intent/explanation.

      I maintain that singing Christmas carols is quite different than singing sacred music that does not promote a holiday; we must agree to disagree. It sounds as if you believe that one important purpose of caroling is the holiday aspect; again, I disagree. I think this topic deserves a much longer conversation and hope your readers engage with it thoughtfully and with intention, keeping in mind the students who can easily feel excluded or tokenized as non-Christians if they choose to go caroling at school.

  5. Gale December 5, 2017 at 9:52 am - Reply

    All the byproducts mentioned in the article are important to society. When you are empowering students and making connections throughout your district with the organic love of singing, hearing of familiar music, observing holiday joy, and honoring other cultures, There is not a lot much more you can say… Or expect from someone who is leading this effort and teaching every day preparing concerts and keeping kids singing within the school. Invite the media to cover your efforts and that will influence the rest of your community in the world to do the same… That is if you have any time left to do that. Bravo! Release him updated invite the media to cover your efforts and that will influence the rest of your community in the world to do the same… That is if you have any time left to do that. Bravo! Bellissima!

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