Teacher Raises Money To Help Rid Student Fears of Public Singing

 Teacher Raises Money To Help Rid Student Fears of Public Singing

Matt Hill

Matt Hill, a chorus teacher at Fugett Middle School, demonstrates to his students how to use the new digital voice recorders. 

Like students of all ages around the world, the students in Matt Hill’s chorus classes at Fugett Middle School have a passion for music.

Hill’s classes function as a space where students can express their passion for music, learn about music, and sing a variety of songs together.

Because chorus is an academic class, Hill must assess his students’ ability to learn and perform the material so he can help them learn and grow. This generally means students have to sing in front of their peers. Even though his students enjoy being a part of the musical experience that is his chorus class, Hill recognized some students were fearful of singing by themselves in front of their peers. He wanted to make sure all students felt comfortable in his class, so he came up with a way to help them overcome their fear; he would distribute hand-held digital voice recorders in class, and while students sang as a group, they could individually take turns singing into the recorders. Hill would then assess his students by listening to their individual recordings after class.

Matt Hill“By singing into the recorders, students wouldn’t have to sing alone in front of their peers – they have the support of singing along with their entire class while being assessed,” said Hill. “Providing these recorders to students could help them become more confident in their abilities and at the same time grow as musicians. In addition, it saves valuable class time for instruction, instead of spending significant amounts of class time conducting individual testing.”

Unfortunately, there was a major issue that prevented Hill from moving forward with the initiative – he did not have the funds to purchase the recorders, which cost $484 in total. Determined to move forward, he turned to a popular online fundraising website called DonorsChoose.org. Donors from around the country learned of the initiative and began supporting it almost immediately. Through the donations received via DonorsChoose.org and Yamaha Corporation of America generously agreeing to match each donation made to the project, Hill was able to purchase all ten digital voice recorders two weeks after launching the fundraiser.

Students began using the digital recorders in October. “So far, the response has been great,” Hill said. “The students were a little nervous to use the recorders at first, but they’ve become familiar with them now and are experiencing significantly less anxiety in class.”

Hill is grateful to the donors who believed in his initiative and supported the cause. “Any time people support the arts in our community, it’s exciting and rewarding,” said Hill. “Being successful with this effort means so much to me because the need wasn't necessarily obvious - people who don’t teach chorus to middle school students wouldn’t typically know that for a variety of reasons they are often scared of singing in front of their peers. I was concerned donors would be less enthused to give because of that, however, people believed in the initiative and wanted to help the students, and we achieved the goal together. For that I am very thankful.”

For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or tdukert@wcasd.net.