Middle School Choir Concert Reflection Worksheets Tips that Engage Middle School Students
Choir teachers, are you GUILTY of the following crimes:
1. Giving your students a reflection assignment after a choir concert that looks like this:
2. Asking your students to critique a choral performance they watched that looks eerily similar to the assignment above.
No need to confess to me your guilt over one or more of the above crimes because what really matters is if you want to do something about it.
If you’re fine with doing what you’re doing, then this blog post isn’t for you. (Maybe you want to read about rehearsal strategies for your middle school choir class instead.)
Keep reading if you do want to rectify your concert reflection assignment crimes and learn why your middle school choir students are on the struggle bus when it comes to writing about their choir concert experience.
But Wait, Why Is That Concert Reflection Bad?
Oh, this one?
Simple, it’s a nothing burger. (As Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank would say.)
Think about where your middle school choir students are at in their writing development.
They’ve had years of essay practice in their ELA classes that continue to build upon each other.
In music, though, students don’t practice writing because they only have it once a week maybe in elementary school and then select it as an elective starting in middle school. In elementary music, other skills besides writing are prioritized. Maybe once or twice a grading period there will be a writing assignment (probably on days where there’s a sub), but otherwise students aren’t trained to communicate their musical thoughts effectively through written assignments.
This simple concert reflection is very open-ended. And definitely NOT the type of writing students are used to doing. (Remember, they probably aren't used to any writing in a music class and this is different than their ELA class.)
Think about how students typically write in their school day. Read a text, read a prompt, and then answer the prompt with evidence from the text that they elaborate on with their own thoughts.
Now, you give them this assignment and you get this as a result:
My experience with middle school students definitely looked like vague variances of the above statements. I would get super general responses and at first I didn’t understand why. I just thought the students sucked at writing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What You Ask and How You Ask Matters
When you give your middle school choir students a writing prompt, what are you asking them to do and how are you asking them?
If it’s a vague question, then expect a vague response.
If it’s a specific question, then expect a specific response.
Does this sound simple? Yes. But now look at the question you pose.
“Name one thing you did well at the concert.”
Okay, yes, we want students to reflect on what they did well, but what answer are YOU hoping for, choir teacher friend? Do you want to gain insight on how they feel about their individual vocal technique, memorization skills, blending, technical preparation, musical effect?? (So many elements to a concert!)
The solution is to ask specific questions that will give you the individualized insight you wish for after a concert so you understand your students better each time. (And side note, if your automatic thought to that was “I don’t have time to read all of my students’ reflections after a concert”, then save yourself paper, time, and your student’s respect by NOT giving them an assignment you don’t intend to utilize. Really, just stop reading here, read about some rehearsal strategies, and don’t give your students meaningless assignments.)
So, let’s turn this question around into a meaningful assessment for you and your choir students. Instead of asking “Name one thing you did well at the concert”, here are some alternatives to think about:
Graphic Organizers Help Middle School Choir Students Respond Better
While an essay-like approach is super quick to slap together post-concert, have you tried using graphic organizers instead?
Taking the advice from before (remember, ask specific questions rather than open-ended questions so you can guide your students towards thoughtful reflection), present the questions through a graphic organizer.
Adding a level of visual interest while also chunking their thoughts will help students generate a more meaningful reflection about their concert performance.
Should Middle School Choir Students Use Complete Sentences?
Here’s the educational dilemma I think all non-ELA classes face when giving a writing assignment: Should they require students to use complete sentences?
My opinion: yes and no. The directions, and sentence requirement, should reflect the assignment type. For example, with a graphic organizer, I won’t require complete sentences. That’s not the point of the graphic organizer. For a more formal question, yes. I want a complete sentence. Just because this is choir doesn’t mean you can get lazy in your writing.
“But I teach choir, not English. I don’t care if they write in a complete sentence or not.”
Great, so never ever ask your choir students to do a written assignment with you, please. Stick to graphic organizers or class discussions about your concert. Both are just as great as writing paragraphs.
Don’t give your students any excuse to be poor at something (in this case, their writing skills). That would be like your precious choir students taking voice lessons from someone who doesn’t care if they have poor voice placement or a tense tongue. Singing is singing, right? Good enough, right?
So why would you give a piss poor writing assignment in your choir class that allows students to practice poor writing skills because you accept it as “enough”? Just don’t give an assignment like that. Period.
Choir Concert Reflection Activities For the Busy Choir Teacher
Now that we've explored improving our concert reflections for middle school choir students, the next question you're probably asking yourself is: "But when will I have the time to create another resource?"
Personally, I love canva.com. Super easy to use and visually interesting, making resources for your students becomes fun.
Remember, as you create an improved choir concert reflection activity for your middle school choir students, ask specific questions and chunk. It makes the work way less daunting and encourages students to use their music vocabulary more. (Remember that vague student example from earlier? Yeah, we don't want to read those anymore.)