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’ll stop in the gym and the cafeteria; we will perform for 1 secretary or 200 students. Sometimes 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!
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; as a result, this leadership experience will pay big dividends in the long-run.
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. As a result, both the performers and the audiences benefit.
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. As a result, 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 both spirited and joyfully. The also presents the common need to whip out the “Hallelujah Chorus”. Save the “Hallelujah Chorus” for the mall flash mob – when we’ve eradicated the dangers of covid.
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 addition 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. As a result of participating throughout the community, we become part of the core of the community itself.
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. As a result, 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.