Your 10 Question Choir Midterm Exam

As we reach the middle of our academic year, students are likely taking exams to evaluate their progress, while teachers may be proctoring, grading, and preparing for the second-half of the year.

This 10 question choral midterm is the most effective way to measure the success of our students. This midterm will require no studying or preparation on the part of our students. It will, however, require some reflective thinking.

There are generally two types of choral exams: performance exams that favor the talented students, and written exams where achievement could be met by all students, should they put the time in to study. Both performance exams and written exams do not measure what a typical audience observes at our concerts, nor do they accurately evaluate the many layers of learning that can take place in a choral rehearsal.

True student achievement can be measured in a more wholistic way, not in one’s ability to label notes and rhythms, sing an alto line in an octet, or memorize song lyrics.

This midterm provides a wholistic way to evaluate how our students are achieving within our choral program. How successful they are on this exam will accurately determine what they have learned this year.


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Oh and one more important thing: This exam is NOT for your singers……..it’s for you

In taking this 10 Question Midterm, we must evaluate the progress of ALL OF OUR STUDENTS in ALL OF OUR CHOIRS; this includes the students in our select ensemble, beginner ensemble and any ensemble in between. How all students in our program are doing is the true assessment of how impactful WE truly are as a teacher.


Beauty Shines (SSA) – A song of empowerment and finding beauty from within

Here is Your 10 Question Choir Midterm Exam:

Note: These are the questions with a brief description. Click here to download the exam, which has 4 multiple choice answers to each question along with a grading scale to measure your achievement.


The Ultimate SIGHT-SINGING Rubric To Assess/Train ALL Levels of Students 


1. Do your students learn music considerably faster than they did at the start of the first term?

For this to happen, any or all of the following things must be happening: more students are singing out with gained confidence, their sight-reading skills have improved, they are more focused.


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2. Are the graduating seniors in your program leading by example and giving maximum effort?

Do our graduating seniors appear motivated during rehearsal? Since they are the most experienced choral members, do they exhibit the best body alignment, holding up their music, paying the greatest attention to detail? Do they bring up the younger students? Are they acting as role models for next year’s seniors to follow?

3. Do students of all skill levels suggest repertoire that they’ve found, or provide links to great recordings for you and the choir?

Are students of all talent and ability levels making efforts outside of school to gain deeper insight into choral repertoire? Are students taking the time to do more than what we provide for them? It’s great when our top singers give their input, but it’s more indicative of a strong program when our average students become self-motivated.


Oseh Shalom (SSAA – Unaccompanied) – A Prayer for Peace

4. Do many of your students continue to sing beyond the ending bell, or immediately after the rehearsal ends?

When we are rehearsing up to the final bell, are students so vested in what they are doing that they want to continue beyond the time that instruction ends? Do they sing as they pack up and walk out the door? Do we leave them wanting more?


10 Steps to Choosing the Right Choir Officers – free download


5. Do the majority of students raise their hands to answer questions?

Do you ask questions that allow students to share their independent thoughts and insights? If so, does the overwhelming majority of the class choose to participate a large portion of the time? Right and wrong questions are aimed at students who already know the information; open-ended, self-reflective questions can engage an entire room in thought.


How to Self-Assess their Way toward Rehearsal Success


6. Do students accurately self-assess themselves?

Do your students clearly understand what is expected of them during rehearsals, and then correctly assess how they are meeting those expectations? Furthermore, are they self-aware of what they are singing correctly vs. incorrect pitches and rhythms?

7. Do students exhibit pride for being in choir?

Are students excited about representing our program? Do the majority of students want to sing at a pep rally, homecoming, basketball game, daytime concert, and other community events?


The Road Not Taken (SATB – Unaccompanied)


8. If we, the teacher, are not present at the beginning of class, will the choir start rehearsing on it’s own?

Does the success of the program rely solely on what we do as the conductor or does the group understand the routine with or without us?

9. Have our choir members bought into our vision?

Do we have a clear-cut philosophy that encompasses all of our students? Do our students understand what the purpose of our choir is and are they vested in our program, and our collective vision? Do all students believe they fit into our master plan? Is there a place in our program for every student to not only continue, but thrive, for their entire school career?


The Best Ear-Training Exercise You Will Ever Use


10. Do you believe the overwhelming majority of new members will continue singing next year in our choral program?

Most students in our program should continue from year to year. The main reasons for this not happening are: we only provide our top students with select opportunities, their guidance counselors are telling them to take something else, students have found other classes that they want to try instead of continuing with us, or they just don’t like singing; all four reasons are  excuses for the fact that our students have not fully bought into our vision and/or do not see an opportunity to grow through our program.

Taking the exam

I’ve created the exam as a free download where each of the 10 questions offers a multiple choice response. This midterm exam can produce groundbreaking awareness, reinforce the fine work you are doing, and help you to strive toward the next level of achievement within your programs.

While the downloadable midterm does provide a clear scoring system, every teacher who chooses to read this article and chooses to take the exam deserves immense credit.

Any teacher who receives the highest score on the exam is certainly achieving high technical success. On the contrary, technical achievement can also be reached at the expense of the larger, more wholistic goals that I believe really are the most important aspects of any high school choral program.

In my opinion, it’s wonderful to have a select ensemble that sing wells, but it’s more important to have all interested singers engaged, motivated to improve, and making beautiful music together.


Valentine’s Day Round (4 parts) – focuses on articulation of specific tricky consonants


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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.

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