ACDA Junior High/Middle School Standards

Defined: June 2009 by Gretchen Harrison, National R&S Chair for JH/MS Choirs

  1. Repertoire
    • Selection and Choices
      1. Choose music that is well-crafted and appropriate to encourage the singer to grow musically, emotionally and socially throughout the learning/performance process. Choose texts that provoke thought, are poetic and will improve the choir's tone.
      2. Repertoire should be chosen that demonstrates respect to historically important composers and introduces new talented composers. Attention should be given to diverse musical cultures and experiences.
      3. Music selection should demonstrate that the ability of the choir is foremost in the chorale educator's thoughts. Choose music that matches the range and register requirements of your choir, but allow for challenge and growth.
      4. Accompaniments should be artistic and complementary to the piece.
      5. Introduce singers to new composers through the commission process when appropriate and possible.
    • Presentation
      1. Allow the repertoire to dictate performance practice (tone color, movement, etc.) and present those practices with authenticity and respect. It is the director's responsibility to complete score study, research the piece and present the information in a manner that will allow the singers to learn and perform the music with excitement, enthusiasm and respect.
      2. Seek out musicians and other experts in the community to participate in the learning and performance process. Encourage all musicians to perform at the highest level of excellence.
  2. Choral Vocal Production
    • Vocal Health
      1. Model, demonstrate and teach elements of vocal health.
      2. Study, understand and encourage a natural approach to the changing voice (male and female).
      3. Teach and reinforce performance practice regarding vowel formation, breath management, and basic tone quality.
    • Intonation
      1. Vowel formation, resonation, placement of tone within the resonation chambers and breath management are critical to the development of accurate intonation.
      2. Teach singers to listen to themselves and others; to evaluate individual and ensemble performance; and to analyze performance issues will serve to address intonation issues.
      3. Conscientious and consistent work with seating arrangement will also aid intonation issues. Singers benefit when seated in close proximity to others with similar vocal weight and timbre. As this is a transitional stage of vocal development, frequent monitoring and responsive action on the part of the director (regarding seating) will help singers perform with freedom of tone.
    • Style
      1. Modify tone color to fit the style of the repertoire. When singers approach stylistically correct tonal production methods within the parameters of healthy tone production, there is little risk of vocal stress or damage.
      2. It is the teacher's responsibility to understand the differences in performance practice between historical eras (Renaissance, Baroque, etc.)
  3. Rehearsal Techniques and Instruction
    • Music Literacy: It is acknowledged that all singers should be presented with learning opportunities which will lead them into becoming independent musicians. Music literacy on all levels must be taught in a consistent and sequential manner. Singers should leave your choir with increased competence in note-reading, rhythm reading, score awareness, symbolic notational devices, and music directions written in other languages.
    • Rehearsal Techniques: Teachers must recognize the education of the entire child: efforts should be given to teaching toward multiple learning styles, with emphasis in this JH/MS area on kinesthetic teaching methods. Rehearsal techniques should demonstrate awareness of the "wiggly" nature of this age and should not stifle but involve those behaviors to help create a dynamic, moving and exciting choral experience. Use of manipulative learning tools, word pictures and analogies create physical and emotional connection to the music which will allow the student to really "KNOW" the music on many physical and emotional levels.
    • Instruction and Management: It is the director/teacher responsibility to manage the choir in such a way that every individual knows his/her individual worth to the collective ensemble continually. The ensemble is an image of society in general. It is up to the director to build fine choir members while building fine people. This is our greatest challenge. Aristotle says, "Good ensemble is when its members have a commendable knack of subordinating themselves to the benefit of the whole." This must be modeled by everyone-director included--for smooth management and instruction to occur.
  4. Professional Growth and Development
    • Copyright: ACDA does not permit the use of photocopies or illegally duplicated copies of published/copyrighted music or CD/DVD performances at any conference or event. ACDA will not support the practice of use of illegal copies in any application. It is the director's responsibility to develop knowledge about copyright in terms of print, video, and audio formats. It is also his/her responsibility to understand ethical use of internet and online resources.
    • Networking
      1. Conductors/Educators must pursue connection and professional growth through, but not limited to, the following opportunities:
        • Conferences
        • In-service events
        • Concerts
        • Mentor/mentee relationships
        • Internet-based connections (Skype, Facebook, professional websites, etc.)
      2. Choirs should be encouraged to grow and develop in the same manner their director's network and pursue professional growth.
    • Continuing Education: Artistry and professional confidence are grown through experiences. It is imperative that the director/conductor pursue continued opportunities to grow in the Choral Art. Seek out opportunities beyond district-mandated professional development days. Look for opportunities to move out of comfort and into excellence.
  5. Recruitment and Retention
    • Be an educator/director of vision and purpose. Know your mission. Make sure your singers know the mission.
    • Share your choir's vision and purpose with others through participation in honor choirs and choir exchange events. Travel with your singers on whatever scale meets the need and purpose of the ensemble and its community.
    • Engage in your local musical, education and arts communities.
    • Involve yourself with your singers in their lives outside rehearsal. Remember the adage, "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
    • Create scholarship opportunities for students whose participation in choir might be limited due to finances.
  6. Audience Development and Education
    • Educate the audience through the use of program notes, announcements and demonstrations. It cannot be assumed that people know how to respond to a concert. Take the opportunity to teach the community in the same way you'd teach students.
    • Collaborate with other choirs, arts organizations and such to build a wider audience base and to grow support for your program.
  7. Advocacy
    • Stand up for the Choral Art. Teach with dignity and respect. Promote the work of great choirs within ACDA and other groups within the profession.
    • Promote the scholarship, artistry and resourcefulness of choirs, the choral art and artists in general. Recognize and share the unique status of Music and the Arts in our society.

From National Standards for Arts Education. Copyright  1994 by Music Educators National Conference (MENC). Used by permission. The complete National Arts Standards and additional materials relating to the Standards are available from MENC: The National Association for Music Education, 1806 Robert Fulton Drive, Reston, VA 20191;

National Standards for Arts Education:

  1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
  4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
  5. Reading and notating music.
  6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
  7. Evaluating music and music performances.
  8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
  9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.