No Barney Songs for this Elementary School Choir

These 4th and 5th graders have done radio shows and received celebrity praise.

Something you do with your choir that others might find bizarre or strange!

I like incorporating songs that kids aren’t “supposed” to sing. We sing songs that are not made for kids. We sing the songs that are culturally relevant. I treat students in my chorus like young adults and not babies. We are not like most elementary school choruses. No Barney songs here!

A juicy fact you love to tell your choir members

I love telling students about musicians/celebs that have commented or shared our content. It is a hugely effective buy-in tool.

QUICK FACTS

Choir Name: Kids Rock Chorus
Location: East Providence, Rhode Island
Number of Singers: 150+ 4th and 5th graders
Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

So, who’s shared your music?

The Monkees shared our cover video of “Daydream Believer”. CeeLo Green shared our cover of “Crazy” on social media. Daniel Johnston, BeBe Rexha, Soul Asylum, and Gary Numan have all shared our cover versions online as well. All told, we have over a million views online and have been spread all over the world.

What is something you do in rehearsals that surprises new members?

We watch videos! We watch other choirs, singers. We watch the good and the bad. And discuss what we could do better. We break down film like an NFL team would.

A favorite vocal exercise

We have lyric battles to test students’ memories. A suggestion box where students can suggest their faves. We also do a “spooky” warm-up with a tritone interval and of course all the standard tongue twister chorus staples.

Favorite repertoire?

Radiohead “No Surprises”; Madonna “Like a Prayer”; Soul Asylum “Runaway Train”; Metallica medley; Nirvana medley; Lou Reed “Perfect Day”; Elvis “Suspicious Minds”, to name a few.

A funny moment

Always funny when we break out the gopro camera and record something we’ve learned that day. Crazy dance moves and laughs are plentiful.

How does your choir bond?

We “bond” by rehearsing once a week during the school day for 40 minutes. We listen, sing, dance, laugh and hopefully leave wanting more.

A special performance

We were chosen to sing in a commercial for a local hardware store. That was a thrill. We have a standing gig at the local nursing homes, and at the HOT106 fm radio station. We were also featured on a “Hometown Hero” segment on our local ABC news.

An emotional moment you had in a performance?

Packing the 1000 seat auditorium at our annual spring concerts. That’s always amazing and humbling.

An emotional moment in rehearsal?

We invite in other teachers, principals, or staff to come be serenaded during rehearsals. It keeps the kids on their toes and helps prepare us for live performances.

A challenging performance & how you faced it.

Performing to a packed room at our local nursing home was intense for the kids and for me. We talked about giving these people some light in their lives. Most could not walk, talk or may not have had long to live. We also toured the hallways visiting patients who were too ill to leave their rooms. The sights, sounds and smells of a place like that are not always easy to perform among. And, I don’t always have an answer for what the students are experiencing. Here we are singing real songs about life, death, and loss to strangers who may never get visitors.

What is your audition process?

Students are self selected and that list is run by their classroom teachers and myself. If they work hard, behave and wanna sing then they are in. No formal auditions.

A favorite inspirational quote

“Feel it, don’t fake it.”

Written By
Taylor Temple has been teaching in East Providence, RI for 15 years. Splitting his time between Kent Heights and Hennessey elementary schools, Mr. Temple sees approximately 600 students a week as a K-5 general music teacher. Taylor, along with his colleague and longtime friend Nicholas Hurd, founded the "Kids Rock Chorus" ten years ago. Many concerts, field trips, and viral videos later, the Kids Rock Chorus continues to push the boundaries of what an elementary chorus can be.

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