Pacing sophistication means moving just fast enough in your teaching points that students can keep up, not get bored and most importantly: want more. Regardless of the grade level, we all would like our students to receive the very best and most fulfilling musical experience we can offer them as well as motivate them to continue their music education.
The middle school years are when some real musical groundwork can be laid. Seeing your students every day affords continuity and follow-through that can lead to serious musical development. You will observe in your students some plateaus, some blocks and some ultimately breakthroughs that will inspire them to follow through and overcome, not just music but any challenge presented to them. This is all achieved by pacing.
After many years in music education, you will have undoubtedly observed and experienced numerous outstanding middle school choir music programs either personally or among your peers. These groups will consist of teachers and students, totally devoted to making their music the very best it can be. As students are chosen for select groups, they begin to develop a sense of sophistication. They recognize what a good choir is capable of sounding like. Particularly when successfully executing multiple-part singing, the choir sounds come alive.
This is where the passion begins and the deep appreciation of making music develops. It is paramount for middle school choir teachers to develop and nurture this appreciation and make sure their students realize this is only the beginning of a wonderful musical journey that will last a lifetime.
Building an outstanding music program should be what every choir director aims to do. At the same time, making sure his/her students want to carry on their choir experience into high school is just as important. When students feel like this is all there is or they are totally burned out, the main point of middle school music has been missed regardless of how well the groups perform.
There should always be a feeling of wanting more. The students should want more harmony, rhythmic complexity, tonal exploration, and sophistication. So do the best job you can in getting your groups to perform well. Provide your students with all the tools to experience music at a higher level. Leave them with the feeling of wanting more. Nothing makes a middle school teacher feel more proud than seeing and hearing his/her students carry on to higher levels.