As we reach the middle of our academic year, students are likely taking midterm 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 holistic way, not in one’s ability to label notes and rhythms, sing an alto line in an octet, or memorize song lyrics. As a result, I generally support grading that allows all students to have the opportunity for success.
This choir midterm provides a holistic way to evaluate how well 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 choir midterm exam is NOT for your singers……..it’s for you
In taking this 10 Question Choir 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 much impact WE truly are as a teacher.
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.
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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 your 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? As a result of their presence, are the less experienced singers improving? Are they acting as role models for next year’s seniors to follow?
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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.
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?
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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.
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? If so, do the majority of students want to sing at a pep rally, homecoming, basketball game, daytime concert, and other community events?
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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? If so, have we made this philosophy clear to our students. Do our students understand what the collective purpose of our choir is? If so, are they invested in both our program and a collective vision? Do all students believe they fit into our master plan? If so, can they explain their potential path moving forward? Is there a place in our program for every student to not only continue, but thrive, for their entire school career?
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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
- 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. As a result of these excuses, we can easily justify their exit from 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 and reinforce the fine work you are doing. As a result, this can 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, it is certainly possible for talented choral directors to reach technical achievement with failed success on this exam. In those cases, the technical success is occurring by favoring one group of students while neglecting another group.
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.
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