Valentine’s Day may seem like a holiday that should be ignored in choir, but I think it could be a missed opportunity!

Choir and singing is all about both the human connection and spreading love.

During our choir rehearsal, nobody should feel alone. We can choose to spread love throughout our room and, as a result, have everyone feel special. Love is infectious and can naturally infiltrate each and every member of our ensemble. It is our job to spread the love and build connection; Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to make it our focus.

Does this seem like a waste of a rehearsal to you?

This concept may seem ridiculous to some choral directors, but think about how our less-adjusted students might feel as they watch their friends receive roses, gifts, and cards all day long. Many student feel left out as they walk through the hallways, overhear conversations, observe others experiencing something that they are not experiencing. We have the power to take ownership of a moment where many students feel alone, and turn it around to create a special, loving rehearsal for all of our students.

Any time we can use our real world culture or events to connect with our choir, we are potentially creating a deeper impact, and in turn, strengthening their connection with choir and to the music-making process.

As I’ve mentioned before, finding ways throughout the year to make choir rehearsals feel special and unique, while instilling a sense of tradition is what leads to building a program of continued excellence, year after year.

Valentine’s Day provides a great opportunity to create a “special” and unique rehearsal. The days leading up to Valentine’s Day also provide opportunities for the choir to build upon the human connection both inside and outside the classroom. The 12 ideas listed below are intended to make this holiday of love become a rehearsal filled with love and positive energy for all of our singers.


Valentine’s Day Round (4 parts)


Here are 12 ways to Effectively Include Valentine’s Day in your Choral Program:

1. Greet students as they enter and/or exit our room and hand out something that symbolizes love

By personally giving each student a love symbol, (Hershey’s kiss, little candy hearts, etc, cut-out heart, etc), we are making a special connection with each child. This is something that choir officers can do in our place. The goal is for each choir member to feel a one-on-one, warm interaction as they enter and leave our rehearsal. If you have class officers who are usually the greeters, this can be their job.


 Try SIGHT READING FACTORY and save 10% using code: choralclarity

  – the tool you and your singers will LOVE!!


2. Prepare a personalized “Valentine’s Day” message on the board as they enter the room

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Choir! You Are All Loved!” is a wonderful message for students to see as they enter our room and find their seats. A thoughtful message goes a long way. We never know who needs to hear that. We can also say this verbally to our choir. Telling the choir we love them and care about them isn’t limited to Valentine’s Day, but this national day of love certainly provides the impetus for sharing this sentiment.


Valentine’s Day Written Rehearsal Assignment – free download for your students!


3. Enhance the room with additional decor – do something that is reflective of love

Keep it simple. Maybe the smart board/chalkboard can have something “love-themed”. For example, a few beautiful quotes about love, possibly taken from their music, could really set the tone of the rehearsal.


The Ultimate Sight-Singing Developmental Rubric


4. Use warm-ups that have lyrics/articulation of love

Starting off the rehearsal with “love-themed” warm-ups could put our singers in the right mind frame. It can also give us a reason to break up the monotony of warm-ups and bright to light a new, specific focus. An arpeggio such as “I love to sing” or a descending 5-note pattern of “love, love, love, love love” that focuses on the “l” sound, is a great way to engage our singers right off the bat. Think of a way to make all of the warm-ups love-themed for that one day!


How to Teach Anyone To Match Pitch! – online course for choral directors – learn at your own pace!


5. Let love be a universal theme 

Love doesn’t need to be about a couple. It can be about loving oneself, loving mankind, being passionate about what we do in our life, etc. Draw attention to all that love can be. Love is such a powerful emotion as it brings joy, sadness, compassion, pain, grief, frustration, and many other emotions. While the mood of love is surrounding our students throughout the day (for better or for worse), let’s connect this emotion directly to their singing. This will, no doubt, bring deeper meaning to our music will beyond this one time of year.

6. Discuss the specific themes of love within our music

Focus on the songs that share this theme. Sometimes it is love of nature, love of life, or love of another being. For our “Valentine’s Day” rehearsal, “love” can be the entry point into our music; as we connect the applicable theme of “Valentine’s Day” back into our chosen song selections, some students may be able to connect deeper to their music. When we offer a different entry point into our music, (focusing on dynamics, articulation, vowels, meaning, etc), we can reach our students in a new and profound way.

 

7. Learn and sing a Valentine’s Day Round

Any holiday or event is a good excuse to do something different. I wrote a round for Valentine’s Day that is designed to reinforce consonants that are frequently mispronounced or omitted as well as ones that frequently sound the same, even though they are distinctly different. Rounds, in general, are great for group sight-singing, and for teaching beginning singers how to hold their part. This round is a great tool for singers of all ages. You can certainly start this piece prior to Valentine’s Day, leading up to the special rehearsal.

8. Distribute a brief questionnaire that poses some reflection about “love” in choir

These questions could also be written on the board and students could write the answers on a sheet of loose-leaf paper. Some examples could be:

1) What choir song to you love to sing the most, and why?

2) What aspect of choir do you love the most, and why?

3) What is one line in a piece of music that touches you, and why? Look through your song selections and choose one line.


The Most Effective Rubric for Guiding and Evaluating Soloists


9. Encourage students to share their response to the questionnaire with the class

An effective way to do this would be to first form in pairs or small groups, and have each student share their response to each student. Next, ask students to volunteer and read their response to the entire class. If you’d like, click below and download this Valentine’s Day Rehearsal Assignment.

10. Begin a discussion about how both music and singing play a role in connecting with love throughout our society

Group discussions are a useful way to bring students together and connect toward a common goal. In this case, the understanding of their role as singers to spread and transmit love is a powerful message to explore; additionally, the power of music, especially live music, is so unique. What happens when we perform at an assisted living facility, at a wedding, at a funeral, sing happy birthday in harmony, etc? What is our role as singers?

11. Sell flowers with personalized messages 

Our choir usually  runs a pre-ordered flower sale with attached personalized messages that are distributed on Valentine’s Day to students and faculty throughout our entire school. This creates a positive environment throughout the choir and the entire school, not to mention raises some serious funds for our ensemble! This year, due to Covid restrictions, we have instead chosen to keep it simple and sell carnations with personalized messages on February 14th at a table in the lobby of our school.


 Try SIGHT READING FACTORY and save 10% using code: choralclarity

  – the tool you and your singers will LOVE!!


12. Sell Singing telegrams or personalized recorded singing messages

Choirs can sell singing telegrams throughout their school. A song as simple as the Valentine’s Day Round could be learned within part of one rehearsal, and then used for the purpose of singing from classroom to classroom. This could be a great fundraiser!

One of my colleagues, for example, at a nearby school district records personalized songs and they are sent out to the recipients via text message. His students charge different prices based on how personalized the song is. This can be a fun in-class musical project and can raise money for your organization while spreading joy!