Halloween is here………surprise!

Do you want to make your Halloween rehearsal special? If so, it’s not too late!

While this year, Halloween does not fall on a school day, many choir directors may choose to designate a specific rehearsal as Choir Halloween. In my choral program, one ensemble happens to have a Monday Night Rehearsal that we are calling “Choir Halloween”. Another ensemble that meets daily will treat Friday as Choir Halloween. The ideas in the blog post require little to no preparation and are intended for 1 specific Halloween rehearsal and will positively impact your rehearsal culture far beyond one rehearsal. 

1. Turn the lights off before the students enter the room

Change up the vibe in the room. A unique lighting effect could change the ambiance and create a different musical and emotional response in the room.


Oh Hanukkah for SAB or SSA – easy to learn and total crowd-pleaser


2. Begin the daily warm-up with a unison hum or “oo”

As the choir focuses on one maintained pitch with beautiful tone, change your chords on the piano between major and minor. 


Trick or Treat Round – spooky, fun, and helpful


3. Warm-up only in minor

Most of us are guilty of using warm-ups that are only in major keys. If so, we can take our regular warm-up and make it “spooky”, or minor, for the day. 


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4. Use the New Aural Training Sheet in Relative minor

If you have been using the Aural Training Sheet or a similar exercise with your ensemble,  The New Aural Training Sheet in Major AND Minor is effective for easily moving between major and minor. I use the month of October as a whole to teach my more advanced singers how to navigate back and forth from major to relative minor. Using the opportunity of Halloween, I introduce this concept to all students for the day. The directions are on top of the exercise. Students will learn to relate the minor sound to the major sound by sharing the same “Do” between exercises. 

If you haven’t read The Best Ear-Training Exercise You Will Ever Use, you will quickly understand this simple exercise!

 

5. Sight-Sing in Minor

It is useful to contrast the same major sight-singing exercise with a minor exercise. Since many of us predominantly sight-sing in major, this is an opportunity to teach an exercise in major and then modulate it to minor; we can do this by lowering the 3rd and 6th scale degree (harmonic minor).


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6. Trick or Treating on the Train Track, Trust Me, Trouble!

One of the most commonly mispronounced connecting consonants in America seem to be “Tr” and “Dr”. Most Americans pronounce TR as CH. Chrick or Chreat is what we sound like. Tuh-rick or Tuh-reat is the correct pronunciation. Use this phrase as a way to teach them the proper sounds. For “tr” and “dr” the lips remain stationary; only the tongue moves. It also helps to put an “uh” between the T/R and D/R. Here is a fun exercise to practice with:

Trick or Treating on the Train Track, Trust Me, Trouble!”

(we Americans say: Chrick or Chreating on the Chrain Chracks, Chrust Me, Chrouble!)

(proper singing/speaking is: Tuh-Rick or Tuh-Reating on the Tuh-rain Tuh-rack, Tuh-rust me, Tuh-rouble)

Apply that T-R and D-R to all the lyrics in the songs with those connected consonants: drive, dry, drain, draw, try, trail, travel, trial, etc)

 

7. Teach a Halloween round

It’s can be of great impact to take a break from the regular, long-term repertoire and infuse some quick, fun, and short-term rounds.  A round can change an entire rehearsal dynamic whether taught by rote, sight-read, or spoon-fed. Even a fine high school can appreciate a simple round.  Here are two rounds that are perfect for Halloween:

  1. Have You Seen The Ghost of John and Pumpkin Eyes. The lyrics for this “Halloween round” have been changed from “Ah Poor Bird”.)
  2. Trick or Treat – Halloween Round: This round uses holiday festivity to teach articulation.

 8. Have a Mummy Wrap Contest

This is plain-old fun. Each section has a volunteer mummy as the entire section has 2 minutes to wrap the mummy with rolls of toilet paper.  At the end of the two minutes, the entire section backs away from their mummy, and everyone votes for the best mummy. It’s a 5 minute break, possibly at the end of class, but these 5 minutes bring the group together, make for great photos, and create a special moment.


Sight-Singing Developmental Rubric – for developing students who lack the underlying sight-singing skills


9. Change a section of the music from major to minor

Take a section in one of your current choral repertoire and have the students sing their part in minor. If this it too difficult, modify the ending chord of the piece, teaching them how major chords can change to minor.


Fun Halloween Round for 2, 4, or 8 parts – tongue twister!! listen/download now



One more for the road:

(10.) Hand out candy as they leave

A little treat, or should I say, “tuh-reat?”, goes a long way; students will remember getting candy on their way out. They’ll remember the little something special that happened.

Some Bury Last Words:

Cultivating a choral community is essential to any fine choral program. Consider Choir Halloween as one of our built-in opportunities to foster bonding, reinforce specific skills, and create a memorable rehearsal that students will look forward to year after year!

 

Dreidel – SATB (unaccompanied) – easy to learn, fun for the singers and audience!