Submitted by Elissa Reichstein-Saperstein, Otsego Elementary, New York

Idea posted June 17, 2008

I actually DO allow my students to sing some of "their" music but FIRST, they must learn mine, and here's how it works:

During our first rehearsal, I explain that I get to choose their music. I tell them that I love them and am always proud of their efforts and talents, and I want others (specifically their school friends) to be proud of them as well. I know what is best for them and what is performed best, after all I am a musician. If the subject was basketball or reading, I'd bow to those experts.

I then explain that most is not ALL, so I will allow them to choose at least one song to work on. The kids can choose a few songs that they think might be appropriate and acceptable, then, I give them the chance to become arrangers. They can explain to me (written or in discussion) how they think the group could sing it (not in unison or a sing-a-long). If we all agree, then we're on!

They get to choose, they get to arrange, and I get to decide. The students have ownership, and here's the biggie: we don't start working on their song until I feel comfy that MY songs are almost done.