Energy capacity and the ability to direct it, is the driver of success in middle school choir. As I am sure you all know by now, working with middle school students can be invigorating as their physical energy capacity level is usually at 150%. If all that external energy could be converted into internal energy and expressed through their music, the outcome would be amazing!
How to harness energy capacity
The first thing that needs to be addressed is that there is actually a limit to their energy capacity, even if sometimes the opposite seems true. If the energy is used up too fast, there will be nothing left. Whether for a single piece or an entire concert performance, you always want a strong finish both in class and in front of an audience. In other words, save something for the end!
One way to manage the classroom energy is to start each day with a calming exercise that will help to channel their energy. Some teachers will start up with a meditation or visualization exercise to get students into the right head-space. Don't be afraid that your kids will drift off to sleep through calming techniques, quite the opposite. They have been proven to help moderate the energy level so that everything is not used up in the first 10 minutes of class.
If however there does appear to be an energy lull, having an activity or stretch will help to increase the energy level. The point is to control the energy level at all times and be mindful of where the kids energy level is at throughout rehearsals.
By practicing this concept of pacing energy during your daily rehearsals, it will come naturally to students. When performance season comes around they will be ready and pre-concert jitters, more easily contained.
You could give your students the example of a marathon race. Participants show up on the day, anxious to bounce into the race! However, the winners are often those that start relaxed but finish strong—saving their energy for the final sprint. Ask your class to imagine that each rehearsal is like a marathon and that their energy would have to last for that final sprint before the bell rang, ending on a high note each day.
On concert days, just as in daily classroom rehearsals, energy should be saved for the performance (the sprint!) When a group of middle school students achieves this level of energetic discipline, you will experience an exciting, enthusiastic performance on stage. The group motto could be: “Save it for the show!”