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My 4 Point Choir Grading System – CLEAR & SIMPLE

When I was a high school student, I had a social studies teacher who gave multiple choice tests throughout the year. For every single one of his test, he valued every question at 4 points. I could not for the life of me figure out why every single question, all evenly valued, was worth 4 points. Why weren’t they all worth 1 point? We would have a 32 question question, so the score would be out of 128 points. The next quiz would be 40 questions, so they test would be scored out of 160 points.

 

Well, that is not my 4 point grading system.

 

How to Grade Virtually Everything in 4 points…..And Why

 

Grading should not be feared by our students. Students should be assessed in an effort to helps them to grow. Big picture assessment becomes easy for both teachers and students to assess. Instead of nit-picking, specific actions themselves can be addressed with a clear grade.

 

There are two systems that I use for scoring: 4,3,2,1 and 10,9,8,7. While both, in essence, offer the same evaluative nature, one is significantly more punitive than the other. I choose to use the 4,3,2,1 when both my expectations and the students’s ability to meet those expectations are higher. I

 

 

Voice Class or Sectionals

Students get 1 point for being on time, 1 point for being prepared, and 2 points for effective participation. This totals 4 points. Students lose points on their effective participation when it becomes clear they are not engaged in the rehearsal.

Dress Rehearsal

Students get 1 point for being on time, 1 point for being prepared, and 2 points for effective participation. This totals 4 points. Students lose points on their effective participation when it becomes clear they are not engaged in the rehearsal. I score this 4,3,2,1 because I believe their should be substantial weight on showing up on time and being prepared. Using a scoring system of 10,9,8,7 would essentially keep the grades higher while still recognizing the same actions.

 

Grading a Concert

 

There are two grades for concert night: one is the participatory grade. It is basically the eye-test of the concert as it is happening. The second is the post-assessment.

 

Participatory Concert Grade:

This is graded during the actual concert itself. I’m evaluating student punctuality, properly dressed/prepared, and level of engagement during warm-up rehearsal or the performance itself.

Students get 1 point for being on time, 1 point for being prepared, and 2 points for effective participation (warm-up rehearsal, and concert). The total score is 4 points. Students don’t earn the two points for effective participation when it becomes clear they are not engaging during the rehearsal or while performing.

 

I use concert grading 4,3,2,1 because I believe there is tremendous weight and expectation on all 4 categories. A student who is late or not dressed appropriately does deserve to lose 25% of their grade. That is my feeling, but another choir director may feel differently and choose to grade this as a 10,9,8, 7 scoring:

 

In that case: All students start with 10/10 and lose 1 points for any of the following: being late, unprepared, or not participating effectively.

 

Overall Class Participation

This is an evaluation of the student’s rehearsal participation throughout the semester. Depending on the year, I either give an overall self-assessment twice per quarter.

 

Similar to overall participation, this rubric accounts for what students do on a day-to-day and weekly basis. This rubric breaks down clear and simplified expectations of what is to be expected daily:

-being on time

-being prepared

-remaining focused

-exhibiting proper body alignment

-holding up music

-marking music

 

Weekly Sight-Singing Homework – students get 10 tries to complete a weekly Sight Reading Factory Homework assignment

4/4 – student completed maximum number of attempts or gave a perfect or near perfect performance

3/4 – student completed less than the maximum number of required attempts AND made a few errors (pitch, rhythm, staying in key, dynamics, etc) but demonstrated competence in sight-singing

2/4 – student completed less than the maximum number of required attempts AND made many errors but still demonstrated some level of competence in sight-singing

1/4 – student completed significantly less than the maximum number of attempts AND does not demonstrate noticeable competency of sight-singing in any tangible way

Sight-Singing Self-Assessment/Grading Rubric

 

4 point Grading starting from 10

 

The grading system above works well because all students are capable of earning a perfect score most of the time. This may not always be the case. Especially when it comes to self-assessments, we want our students to become aware of their performance without fear of their acknowledgement hurting their grade. As a result the same 4 point system can be shaped as 10/10, 9/10, 8/10, 7/10. The results are the same, but the academic penalization for less than perfect performance becomes acceptable.

 

 

Post Concert Evaluation

This grading is a self-assessment that happens the next class period along with guided discussion.

The rubric rate categories such as:

 

-being on time

-being fully prepared/dressed appropriately

-being focused immediately during the pre-concert warm-up

-demonstrating proper body alignment throughout the performance

-acting appropriately between songs

-demonstrating consistent eye contact with the conductor

-exhibiting positive and engaging demeanor throughout the performance

-how ensemble exits the risers/stage professionally

-ensemble’s level of focus throughout the entire performance

-ensemble’s level of professionalism between songs

-ensemble’s quality of tall, refined vowels

-ensemble’s range of dynamic contrast

-ensemble’s ability to emote/connect to the music, each other, and the audience

-ensemble conveying a positive and engaging attitude on stage

-ensemble’s level of respect and professionalism when not performing (if sitting in audience to watch other groups, or in the waiting area)

 

For each category, the students can score a Completely, Mostly, Somewhat, or Not at All. There is your 10/10, 9/10, 8/10, 7/10

 

Post Concert Self-Assessment

 

 

By | 2021-10-09T05:02:18-04:00 October 9th, 2021|Grading, Homework|

About the Author:

Adam Paltrowitz is a master educator, composer, conductor, and clinician. During his 23-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, and son, Nolan.

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