Support RSMS Men’s Chorus Upcoming Performance at GMEA Conference


Donations Accepted for GMEA

Help the RSMS Men’s Chorus raise $10,000 to travel to Athens, GA to perform at the Georgia Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Conference. The men’s chorus is one of only 3 middle school choirs in the state selected to perform. We have already raised over $7,500- will you help us reach our goal by making a tax deductible donation? All patrons donating over $50 will be listed as a supporter in the GMEA program!






The Rap Project

Every year the choral department combines history, reading, writing, music composition, technology, and recording as part of our annual rap project.  Students are placed in groups of four, must write their own lyrics, compose their background music in GarageBand, and then record their voices rapping their lyrics over the music they composed.  The mp3 files they produce are priceless!

We are moving this year’s project to May- what a great end of the year project!  If you are another school interested in joining us on the project, use the outline below, or Contact Us for more information on how we can collaborate!

History of Hip Hop/ Rap and Subject Matter

It is important that students understand the history of the Hip Hop movement, why it began, and how it evolved into the rap music that students are familiar with today on the radio.  A quick google search will reveal information and documentaries about the movement. PBS did a documentary about the Hip Hop movement, and a transcript of the documentary can be found here-  historydetectiveshiphop . It is important that students understand that hip hop began as a quest for societal change and equality, and that the lyrics they write should have a deep meaning for them as well.  For my 6th grade classes, they use the rap to introduce themselves to the class and to let us learn more about themselves.  The chorus and bridge focuses on something they have in common with their other group members.  For my 7th/ 8th grade classes who have worked on this previously, they are allowed to branch out and pick a topic that they are passionate about.

Writing the Lyrics

It is helpful to do a warm-up activity to discuss couplet rhyme scheme before tackling the entire rap.  Last year we used the New York Times 2015 Rap Contest as our warm-up activity.  They have several lesson plans that accompany their contest that you can use in the classroom.  We instructed the students to focus on a couplet rhyme scheme, since that is what we use in our own rap project.

After reviewing their individual work and making sure they understood how to rhyme every two lines, we started our project.  Use this template to have your students work in groups of four and write their rap! rap template 2016  After deciding on their topic, they can work together to write their intro, chorus, bridge, and outro.  It makes the whole process easier if they divide up the verses (one person take the first half of verse one, next person take the second half of verse one, and so on). Note that the second page of the document gives examples of each section using “Ice, Ice, Baby” and “Thrift Shoppe.”  Most of my kids know both of these songs, and it was helpful for them to understand the different parts of the song.  Make sure to use the clean versions when providing listening examples.

Composing and Recording the Music

After approving each group’s lyrics, it is time to start composing music in garageband.  Use this document and the following YouTube videos as a resource! HipHopStructureinGarageBand  After composing the music, record the student’s voices on top of their music and share as a mp3 file.  I will post samples of our students lyrics and music as soon as we finish the project!  Contact us if you need any additional clarification on the project.

Back to School- Person of the Day Activity

Back to school…back to school!  The last couple of years, I always start off the week with the “person of the day” activity.  Large class sizes in the fine arts classroom is always a hindrance to learning names and interesting facts about students. Knowing your team, however, is pivotal for building the supportive atmosphere that is necessary for students to take risks in learning.  That’s why the first week of school each class makes a shared google slides presentation, where they upload a slide with information, a photo, and even a sound file or moving image that can let their teacher and classmates learn more about them!  Each day, we put a slide up on the screen and that student is our “person of the day.”  Below are links for each of my classes to create their slide this school year (sorry, only students/ staff can access for safety reasons).  Thanks to our principal Mrs. Blair who did this with the faculty a few years ago, prompting me to steal the idea for our classroom!

2nd period

3rd period

4th period

6th period

7th period


Evolution of Music in Recording

It’s that time of year- back to school!  This afternoon we put the finishing touches on our classrooom’s bulletin board in anticipation of tomorrow’s Open House.  We are calling it the “Evolution of Music in Recording,” and a lot of the material is based on the infographic found above.

We’ve had a blast hot gluing records and cassette tapes to the chorus bulletin board, and we are anticipating the “What is that?” questions that will come Monday morning when students see an 8-track for the first time.  We actually expanded the timeline to include prehistoric recording (the human ear), 2,000 B.C. stone tablets inscribed with notation, and the printing press.  On the other end of the timeline, we added Napster, Pandora, and the cloud.  At the end of the timeline is a stick figure with a thought bubble that says, “What’s next?”  There have been so many advancements over the last 25 years in digital recording, making music accessible to all people like never before.  In our lesson the first week of school students will dream up what they think is next- we are excited to find out their thoughts.

Interested in Joining Chorus?

Thanks for checking out the Rising Starr Middle School Choral Department! Maybe you are a 5th grade student or parent trying to learn more about what it is like to be in chorus in middle school…. or maybe you are a current middle school student realizing that you should have signed up last year and are interested in joining this year!  Either way, the RSMS Choral Department is thrilled that you are considering joining our program.

Want to know what it’s like to be in chorus?  The students next door at Starr’s Mill made this recruitment video to give you insight into why it is important to be a member of chorus during your time as a Panther in the south complex!


Frequently Asked Q&A’s

Q. Do I need prior singing experience to join?

A. No!  You aren’t born knowing how to solve algebra problems are you?  The same is true with music.  Singing is a learned skill that you have to practice- anyone can learn how to sing.

Q. What about after school rehearsals?  I play sports….

A. You are not alone!  Over 80% of the members in chorus at RSMS participate in school or intramural sports.  We only have a couple of after school rehearsals a year- all other practice happens during the school day.

Q.  What is the financial commitment for chorus?

A.  Students will need to purchase a uniform, either $70 new or $35 used.   We also ask for students to participate in the annual poinsettia fundraiser and/ or make a donation to the choral department’s annual budget.  This helps pay for music, instruments, field trips, accompanists, and technology.  Of course if your family cannot afford a uniform, just let Mrs. Todd know.  A student is never turned away from chorus, and we can provide a uniform through the generosity of the guidance department for students in need.