A Perfect Time to Learn a New Instrument

Wonder what choir class looks like in the time of remote learning? Bosque middle school choir teacher, Ms. Manganaro, shares what her 6th–8th grade students are doing at home!
Middle school choir students have many ways to keep their vocal chords warmed up while developing their music-reading skills. One of the ways students are staying engaged with music is through learning a new instrument. “This is the perfect time to learn something new or perfect an instrument that students want to learn more about,” said Ms. Manganaro. She explained, “Many students are learning the piano and the ukulele. If they don't have instruments at home, they are using websites to compose music, and we are learning how to use those in our weekly meetings.” So far, she has had many submissions with students performing original songs, playing piano, and playing the guitar. Ava ‘25 learned this song on the ukulele and is singing it to her dog, Trooper!

In addition to this greater goal of learning a new instrument, Ms. Manganaro gives weekly assignments. Each week, students must send Ms. Manganaro a “sight-singing” example. They can complete this by either singing and sending her a recording, or writing in the syllables and posting a photo or scan of their written work. 

Also, students have one more weekly assignment to complete, called their “Weekly Option.” When the switch from in-person to online happened, Ms. Manganaro and Ms. Hart worked together to create a list of fun, music-related activities that students could choose from each week. Here are some of those options:
  • Teach a family member to sing a choir warm-up. If they are willing, video or audio record them!
  • Sing a song to your pet, and send Ms. Manganaro a recording or a photo.
  • Write a short jingle (song) to sell hand sanitizer; send Ms. Manganaro the recording.
  • Watch a TED talk that is about music. Write a three-sentence review and turn it in. 
  • Find a recording of a piece of choral music composed by a female composer.
  • Look up an interesting composer you had never heard of before; send Ms. Manganaro three interesting facts about him or her.
  • Sing your part of one of our choir songs to someone in your house. Ask them to give a one- sentence review about what you did well.
  • Create a brilliant meme about choir.
  • Watch a singer perform live, write down three observations, and share with the class.
  • Watch a “Tiny Desk Concert”; write three sentences about who performed and what you thought about it.
  • What would be your theme song when you walk in a room? Post a link to it!
  • Draw a picture of what it feels like when you sing. Take a photo or scan it and post.
  • Choose a teacher you are grateful for and send them a singing telegram (short video of you singing some sort of thank you-type song).  Email them the video!
  • Write a song about love. 
  • Find random things in your house to use as percussion and add to an existing song. Send the recording!
  • Come up with alternative lyrics to one of the songs you learned for the choir concert and send in. 
  • Write a song about your favorite story/book from childhood. Set the lyrics to a popular tune. 
  • Ask a parent/guardian to show you their favorite song when they were your age. Write about the song, how your parents/guardians listened to music and shared music, send in a video of you listening together or singing together.
  • Perform your favorite karaoke song; send Ms. Manganaro the video.
  • Something of your choice!
Ms. Manganaro has loved seeing her students stay engaged with music through the weekly assignments. Just as she’s been pushing her students to get out of their comfort zones, she has been pushing herself to get out of her own. “I am challenging myself by learning a difficult classical piece on the guitar,” she said. During the last week of classes, they will come together and share their progress. Ms. Manganaro is looking forward to seeing what her students have learned and created.