Happy Cinco de Mayo–and Taco Tuesday! 🙂
Before we dig into some of the activities that I’ve been using with my choirs in online learning, it occurs to me that the title for these posts is a little misleading–because it’s almost impossible to teach actual choir online. There’s really no way to interact, rehearse and give feedback to your singers in real time like you normally would. Not to mention, forget about having any sort of performance as you normally would.
This has left choir directors in a major predicament. What in the world do we teach? And you see a lot of choir directors going a lot of different routes, teaching a lot of different aspects of music, which is great! But for me the question became, “What are the things that are applicable to singing in a choir that I can still provide instruction for online?” I wanted to keep my instruction as close to “being in choir” as possible. Most importantly, I wanted to keep my choir members singing as much as possible, and also try to keep up their music literacy skills. Throw in some music theory practice, some performance listening analysis, and a little composition, and that’s about all you have time for!
The first aspect of my teaching that I wanted to focus on was music literacy, which led me to Sight Reading Factory. This is a great tool to keep your choir members singing, and even better, gives your singers an opportunity to practice the crucial skill of reading music. In case you are not familiar, SRF is a cloud-based program that allows you to create unlimited sight reading examples instantly. SRF can be used on virtually any device through the web browser, and there is an iOS app also available.
SRF allows you to create both melodic and rhythmic exercises with the opportunity to change several different parameters, including voice part, difficulty level, and time and key signatures. With the different difficulty levels, SRF shows you what rhythms and intervals could be included, which is very helpful. Singers have a number of tools at their disposal while working on an exercise, including a metronome and a tuning fork (gives you a starting pitch/chord).
The area where SRF really excels is in assessment. You can easily turn exercises into assessments for your singers! You can set all of the parameters, including difficulty level. Your singers can record themselves on an exercise, and then listen to their recording. They can also listen to a MIDI recording of the exercise, and even listen to their singing and the MIDI recording at the same time, so that they can hear where they might have strayed in pitch or rhythm.
Once they have finished the exercise, they can click to “Submit” the recording, or try another exercise. And this is where the assessment truly is “sight reading”–if they choose “Try Again”, they are given a different exercise. They don’t just get to sit and do the same exercise over and over again! Once they submit their recording, the assignment is complete and their recording shows up in your SRF Assignments tab for you to listen to and assign a grade.
And what may even be the best part–right now, with schools closed, Sight Reading Factory is free for teachers and your singers! Teacher subscriptions are usually $34.99 per year, with the price for student subscriptions varying between $2-4 per student depending on how many students you have. For instance, 50 student accounts would be $171 per year, while 125 student accounts would be $250 per year. Even if your program doesn’t have the budget going forward, you could still purchase the teacher subscription and use it to do 4-part sight reading in rehearsal with your ensembles, or for individual assessments during lessons. But with Sight Reading Factory accounts currently being free, now is a great time to try it out!
To request free accounts for you and your students, simply send an email to:
and tell them that you are interested in starting free accounts for you and your students. When I did this, they had me set up in 24 hours!
If you are looking for more information on the program, head over to www.SightReadingFactory.com
And feel free to email me at: Matt@ChoirDirectorCorner.com, I am happy to answer any questions you might have!
Hope you had a terrific Cinco de Mayo 🙂 See you tomorrow for Part 2 of my “Teaching Choir During COVID-19” series!
The Choir Director Corner
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