Connetquot High School Choral Arts Day
Connetquot High School Choral Arts Day was created five years ago to “bridge the gap” between our middle school and high school choral programs, develop a greater sense of belonging and camaraderie among choral students, and to decrease attrition. Of particular interest was fostering a sense of fraternity between the male students of all three schools, given that they are generally smaller in number than female students. Many students, but especially male students, face significant social pressures against participation in choral singing and have few opportunities to see men singing choral music. Choral Arts Day allows 17- and 18-year-old 12th graders to be role models for 13-and 14-year old 8th graders and help counteract those other, negative social influences. In addition to providing an opportunity to positively influence our younger choral students, it provides a venue for showcasing all of our choral ensembles, developing pride and spirit.
During Choral Arts Day, the eighth grade choir members from both middle schools travel to the high school during the school day to sing with each other, the high school choir students, and the high school choir directors. Though the schedule varies slightly each year, the event generally looks like this: Upon arrival, the 8th graders form a massed 8th grade choir to learn (by rote) a portion of a not-too-challenging new piece with the 9th grade choir director. This allows them to get used to working with their future choir director, meet each other, and learn a song to sing for (or with) the high school students later in the day — all without requiring any advance musical preparation by their choir directors. Then, the high school students are released from class and the 8th-12th graders form a Soprano/Alto and Tenor/Bass choir, led by the two other high school choir directors. The two choirs rehearse the pieces the high school students had previously learned, “catching up” the 8th graders. Finally, the students all eat lunch together, where they are encouraged to make new friends. After lunch, the 8th grade combined choir, all three high school choirs, and two high school show choirs perform one piece each for their peers. (Some years, we learn one common song for EVERYONE to sing, which we usually do in the round–for no audience but ourselves.) Finally, several high school students lead a Q&A period for the 8th grade students to ask their questions about singing in choir at the high school level.
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