Middle School/Junior High Resource List

by Ellen Forslund

I was recently reorganizing my bookshelves and I came across a few books that have helped me through my years of teaching middle school choir. I thought I’d share my favorites with you.


Getting Started with Middle-Level Choir, Patrick Freer (MENC, 1998):
Everything you need to know about MS/JR Choir in 70 pages. Freer covers budgets, schedules, repertoire, adolescent voices, rehearsal strategies, and performances.


Strategies for Teaching Elementary and Middle-Level Chorus, Ann Small and Judy K Bowers (MENC, 1997):
This manual includes teaching strategies based on the content and achievement standards, a preface and an introduction, and a resource list.


Spotlight on Teaching Chorus, Elizabeth Pontiff (MENC, 2002):
A compilation of articles from state MEA journals, which address rehearsal strategies, selecting repertoire, vocal technique, program development, conducting and score study, performance, copyright and recording, adjudication and competition, and pure inspiration.


Working with Adolescent Voices, John M. Cooksey (Concordia Publishing House, 1999):
The definitive guide to changing voices. Cooksey did a 30 year longitudinal study on boys’ voices and shares his findings and offers suggestions with respect to vocalises and repertoire. There is also a chapter dedicated to Lynne Gackle’s research into the girls changing voice.


The Boy’s Changing Voice: New Solutions for Today’s Choral Teacher,
Terry Barham and Darolyne L. Nelson (CPP/Belwin, 1991) :

Another great resource for understanding the voice change and how to deal with it in the classroom. More vocalise ideas, seating arrangements and repertoire ideas.


Strategies for Teacher Junior High and Middle School Male Singers:
Master Teachers Speak, Terry Barham (Santa Barbara Music Publishing, 2001):

Ten years later, Barham surveyed middle school teachers in the Southwestern Division of ACDA and organized their responses to questions about testing boy’s voices, vocal ranges and categories, recruiting, establishing and maintaining interest, vocalises, choral literature, and performance success. Wonderful ideas from veteran teachers.


From the Trenches: Real Insights from Real Choral Educators,
Nancy Smirl Jorgensen and Catherine Pfeiler-Bielawski (Heritage Music Press, 2003):

These ladies pass along lessons learned during their teaching career in an easy to read, light hearted format. Topics include: motivating students, establishing priorities, incorporating listening, using rounds in the rehearsal, legal issues in today’s classroom, producing exceptional musical theater, and planning, programming and performing concerts. I especially like the appendices: Inspiritional quotes, Sample Letters and Forms, Round Repertoire, Musical Theater Licensing Agents, and Publisher Information.


Sing 6-7-8! Roger Emerson (Hal Leonard, 2008):
A practical guide in which Emerson answers 50 random questions to illustrate the processes and techniques he used to move an average choral program into an award-winning one.