MEANYC Workshop:
"If You Compose It, They Will Sing It"

Presented by Anthony Femino
Saturday, March 21st, 2015 

Workshop Review
y Anissa Tazari

Anthony Femino's presentation “If You Compose it, They Will Sing It” focused on sight reading, which has become a common element in the choral classroom and an essential component to developing our students' musicianship. With most educators not having formal training in how to teach sight reading, and with existing sight reading curriculums being too complex for beginning singers, Anthony devised a sequential approach to sight reading that aligns with the New York State Sight-Reading Handbook. He has, in turn, developed a program where sight reading has become a part of the classroom's culture rather than being seen as a chore. 

Using the NYSSMA Sight Reading Criteria for voice as a guide, Anthony developed his own curriculum for teaching sight reading that focuses on developing the students' musical literacy, independence, and confidence. Students are provided with opportunities to predict their mistakes, analyze and interpret musical notation, and assess their performance. In this program, formal assessment is conducted through private sight reading exams with the teacher and students’ very own compositions of sight reading examples. Additionally, sight reading is used to relate to the choral repertoire. 

To prepare students for reading music notation, they are first introduced to singing the diatonic scale using solfege and hand signs. Solfege is rearticulated through warm ups and through the use of a solfege ladder. This is then applied to reading standard musical notation. Anthony walked us through the process by demonstrating warm-ups and activities he uses to introduce specific concepts and how he scaffolds student learning at each of the NYSSMA sight reading levels. 

This interactive workshop encouraged discussion and provided us with opportunities to sing and design our own sight reading examples. Participants left the workshop with plenty of tools and resources to aid them in designing and implementing their own sight reading curriculums that focus on developing students' music literacy. As one of Anthony's student teachers, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the success of this approach to teaching sight reading. However, attending this workshop was especially informative in that it allowed me to better understand the NYSSMA guidelines and to experience the entire process from the beginning. As a future educator, I just can't wait to start incorporating these sight reading concepts into my own teaching!

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