Gioso and Comunita

Gioso, formerly called Primary Choir, is a performance-based preparatory choir for grades 1-5.  It meets on Thursday mornings beginning September 28.  Click on the link below for more information and to sign up your child.

Gioso Informational letter

Comunita, a new choir offering, is open to grades 1-5 and meets on Monday mornings beginning October 16.  This choir focuses on  building a community through music.  Click on the link below for more information and to sign up your child.

Comunita Informational Letter

Welcome to 2017-2018!

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer! I am looking forward to wonderful year of general music and choir at Avoca West, where all students are part of our Community of Musicians.

Below you will find information regarding General Music performances and Choir concerts. 


All students grades 1-5 have General Music two times a week for 30 minutes.  The third and fourth grade students give musical presentations based on their Social Studies curriculum.

  • All fourth grade students participate in “The American Revolution Songbook”  which will take place on Thursday, January 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the South Gym
  • All third grade students participate in “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook” which will take place on Thursday, May 10 at 6:00 p.m. in the South Gym.

There are two choirs at Avoca:

  • The Concert Choir is open to all fourth and fifth grade students, and third graders by invitation.  It meets on Tuesday mornings, 7:30-8:15 in the music room, beginning September 12.  The Concert Choir performs in two concerts. The District Choral Concert, involving Avoca West, Marie Murphy and New Trier, will take place on Thursday, February 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the Marie Murphy Gym.  The Avoca West Spring Choral Concert will take place on Thursday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m. in the Avoca West South Gym.
  • The Jubilate Choir, formerly called “Primary Choir”, is open to first, second and third graders.  It meets on Thursday mornings, 7:30-8:15 in the music room, beginning September 28.  Jubilate will sing in the Avoca West Spring Choral Concert which will take place on Thursday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m. in the Avoca West South Gym.



Fifth Grade Creative Movement

The fifth grade students have spent the first part of the year exploring Creative Movement through classical music.  The purpose of this is to help students become more expressive and articulate in music, use imagination and creativity, and become aware of the space around them.

Through movement, students have been able to experience musical concepts such as strong/weak, heavy/light, legato/staccato, tempo, dynamics (soft/loud), and form (the structure of music) such as Rondo, and are thus better able to have a discussion about music on a deeper level than if they had only listened to the music.

Students have had the opportunity to explore movement with teacher-led activities and with partners and as a class to create complementary poses and tell stories through music using movement as their expressive medium.

While Creative Movement falls under the umbrella term “dance”, Creative Movement in the class setting is not formally structured,  nor is it rehearsed until ready for a formal performance.  Students have given informal performances in class by being audience members for each other.

Music for this unit includes:

  • Kabalevsky, “The Comedians”
  • Prokofiev, “Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2, Op. 84b
  • Resphigi, “Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 3 “Siciliana”
  • Rouse, “Ku komilouko” (a contemporary percussion piece)
  • Orff, “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana
  • Bizet L’Arlessiene Suite No. 1, Prelude
  • Gounod, “Funeral March of the Marionettes”

Chest Resonance

Cultures that use chest resonance

Singing in the lower part of the range is known as chest voice or “belting”. This is when the sensation (resonance or vibrations) happens in the lower part of the voice. If you put your hand on your chest and talk you will feel some vibrations.

Some cultures do use chest resonance as the main form of vocal production.  Gospel  and Serbian choirs are examples of this. Therefore, if the students are singing a spiritual or gospel music or the Serbian song “Niska Banja” I would ask them to sing with a sound using more of their chest voice for an authentic interpretation.  Broadway musicals and pop songs often require a belted sound.

However, most of the time students are encouraged to sing in their head voice for healthy and beautiful tone production for their young, untrained voices. Singing in chest resonance for an extended period of time, just like yelling, can cause vocal health issues including, but not limited to, vocal fatigue, hoarseness, or more serious and long last issues.

Head Voice

Why is it important for children to sing using head voice?

In today’s culture of reality shows such as The Voice, which can be very exciting to watch and listen to, children are often exposed to a sound unique to pop/rock and musical theater.  While belting works for some trained voices, singing on a regular basis in a lower part of the range at a loud volume can create vocal damage and may result in a limited vocal range for the young, untrained voice, which can create permanent vocal health issues.  Think of what would happen to the voice if one was yelling all the time.  It would be like exposing children to loud rock music or noise constantly–there is the potential for hearing loss.

The singing voice is dependent on resonance, or vibrations. In order to sing in head voice, one must feel the resonance in the mask of the face. The mask is where the sinus cavities are located. By having the sensation of singing “into the mask”, the sound, although somewhat of a soft, breathy sound in untrained voices, will be amplified.  As the body grows the voice will grow with it, and as an adult, the individual will ultimately learn to sing in a mixed voice–head and chest resonance combined, allowing for maximum volume even without a microphone!

If you would like to feel the sensation of vibrations in the mask of the face say “mm-hmm” in a somewhat high voice (think “Julia Childs”!) with your lips loosely closed and your teeth apart.  If you are not able to feel them, try it again the next time you have a cold.  The vibrations can be easily felt in the sinuses when one is congested! Throughout the year students will do a variety of activities to help them sense the vibrations in the mask, thus allowing them to get a somewhat louder, but healthy, sound.


Healthy Singing for the Child’s Voice

Is Singing a Talent or a Skill?

Singing is joyful and something all humans can, and should, do. Therefore, it is a part of every general music class.  Singing is often thought of as a talent but, as Ms. Ellsworth and Dr. Feierabend emphasize, it is a learned skill.  Just like an individual has the potential to improve in academics, sports or playing an instrument, one can improve his or her singing voice.

However, like any skill, this requires motivation, time, and proper guidance.  Because the voice is so personal–it is the only instrument that comes from within ourselves–children who are shy may not be motivated, or may feel uncomfortable initially, when invited to sing, until they know they are in a safe space.  Therefore, many of the activities in class are meant to be more play-like to help give the sense of a safe environment in which the children can explore the human voice.  Because the voice can not be seen, the challenge as a teacher lies in helping children find their singing, or head, voice through imagination and sensation (feeling the resonance, or vibrations, in the mask of the face to help project the voice and produce a healthy sound).