How to Improve Holiday Concert Singing with Quaver Curriculum

by Abby @ Quaver on December 11, 2014

in At Quaver HQ,QK-5 Curriculum

Today we welcome to the blog dedicated music teacher Mary Haskins of Reinberg Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois. She’s got some helpful tips for using the Quaver Curriculum alongside her holiday concert preparations!

Mary in Chicago

Take it away, Mary!


It’s the most HECTIC time of the year! Did I say hectic? I meant wonderful!

With our new Quaver Curriculum, I was excited to see how I could integrate some of it into my holiday concert preparations. This year 4th grade is singing a Frozen Medley created by yours truly! Because EVERYONE already knew the music, I’ve had a great amount of time to devote to their actual singing!

After looking over the 4th grade Quaver Lesson “Octaves, Descants & Patriotic Music,” I immediately found ways to make it a springboard for the holiday assembly.

Bonus Teacher Tip: At the latest NAfME In-Service, I learned a tip from an awesome teacher to encourage boys to sing in their “high voice,” which many do not consider “cool.” Instead of “high voice,” she calls it their “tall voice.” Man, do those boys like to use their tall voices now!

Here is how I used the Quaver Lesson (4th Grade, Lesson 4) to prepare for our Holiday Assemblies. We tackled these objectives over multiple class periods in addition to learning lyrics for the song:

*Head and Chest*

To emphasize Head and Chest voice, I used this first screen in the Quaver Lesson.

Head and Chest


In this activity, students recognize when the singers are using their head or tall voices, by putting their hands on their heads, and their chest or low voices, by putting their hands on their chest. This physical addition to learning about head and chest voice is GREAT for a quick assessment.

We then translated the concept to our holiday assembly. After the third time through their holiday song, I asked them to “show me” when they used their tall voice and low voice. I was able to visually check off which students understood the concept, and who needed further experience!

*Last Second Goal*

Next, we moved on to the “Last Second Goal” Lyrics activity, which has students singing in two parts!

Last Second Goal

I continue to have them “show me” which voice they are using. When the music splits into two parts, they put one hand on their head, and one on their chest! Eventually I split the class in two, and they were in charge of their own part.

*Canon Vocalise*

Next, we navigated ahead to the Canon Vocalise activity later in the Lesson.

Canon Vocalise


My students had a really hard time with this on our first listen. I tracked the notes on the board as the track played, but the second time through the song it breaks into canon. The students had a lot of fun trying to sing along with the first singer. After 3 classes, they were able to sing along with the second singer!

That brings me to other resources used!

Under the Worksheets tab, there is a PDF called “Hit The Pitch” that allows students to track their own progress through important singing skills. It explains we have to build a good foundation in order to be good singers!

Hit the Pitch

It starts with individual notes, then a scale, then a phrase, and finally a complete song. Each class we practice two sections of the pyramid, so students who did not quite get it the week before have an opportunity to catch up! Once they fill in the date and note/scale/phrase they completed they get a star sticker! They will get their final sticker for “I can sing a song” after they complete their holiday assembly. After we mastered Canon Vocalise, we added “I can sing a canon” to the top of their pyramids.

Having to teach so many different grade levels and songs to prepare for their concerts is lots of work, as I’m sure all of you know.

Using the Quaver Curriculum has given extra purpose to my lessons during this time, and the students are singing MUCH better!

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