EXTRA C: CHOIR! @ the Wangari Maathai School

I am very pleased to have the chance to possibly lead a choir at the Wangari Maathai School.

Here you will find information about the choir, the rehearsals, what we are working on and how. That is if there is a choir 🙂

This is what the first meeting sounded like!
We introduced ourselves.
It was great fun, a pleasure and an honour to meet such a fantastically international constellation.

If we get enough participants, the first issues that need to be tackled are:

  • find a solution to have a piano in the Choir room (as the black piano will be used by the International Music School piano teacher)
    I own a second upright piano which currently needs a new home, so this could be a perfect match. To be discussed with the W.M school.
  • Chairs for the rehearsals.
  • set a repertoire for a eventual performance on the 20th of December.
    I suppose Christmas Carols would be an obvious direction. I would love to do a simple version of Little Drummer Boy. Maybe a Beatles song.

FRIDAY 13th of September 2019.

A wonderful and intense second rehearsal of the Extra C Choir at the Wangari Maathai School. Below is a 6 minutes sample of the work we did!

We had a really nice group comprised of:

Harry, Otto, Balthasar, Anton, Dominik, Liam, Samarth, Arnav and Robel.

We have a long way to go, the kids have a lot of energy, but I am very very thrilled and optimistic about the potential here. Obviously, there is a pool of more experienced singers who will pull the few with less experience. We might even have a few solo singers!
I’ll let figure out who is who.

FRIDAY 20th of September 2019.

The third rehearsal!

Listen to the first 10 seconds of the recording below.
The kids were just singing around as I was getting ready.
What amazing lightness, and what amazing, natural and spontaneous fantasy in their noodling around!

We had a great time with Dominik, Robel, Balthasar, Harry, Liam, Otto and Anton last Friday the 20th of September 2019. Onyedika will be back today (the 27th), looking forward to that: the more, the merrier.

It was fantastic how well and easily the kids react to difficult and sophisticated melodies, notes and rhythmic patterns.
Noticeable improvement in the togetherness of the singing, even though we still have a long way to go.
I expect that road will be a lot of fun.
And what’s best, it will be ever more fun once we have gone down that road and can start tackling more difficult songs!


I did not make any recordings of the 25th of October, which also was a second Probestunde for the younger newcomers (Erste Klasse) .

On Friday, November the energy level was high.
This lead to trying some beatbox as part of the warmup routine.
Then we practiced Autumn Comes, a lovely folklore song from 16th century England.
First, we practiced the melody which I played on my new little accordion.
(I think Julian was a bit thrown off by the accordion:)
Then we practice the text.

Starting at 02:18 you will hear one pupil sing the verse solo. I believe Anton or Otto.
Most pupils hum the melody in the background.

Starting at 02:54 you hear a small group (Isabella, Lelou, Balthasar, and Onedyka) practice the verse, then there is an edit to another un-identified small group which swiftly becomes most of the pupils.

Starting at 03:55 you hear a small group of younger newcomers.

I usually let the kids go ten minutes early so those who have soccer can get there in time.
So naturally, we found ourselves in a smaller setting with a few pupils who did not have soccer afterward and still wanted to sing.

So we practiced Autumn Comes again, and I believe Onedyka asked to try it in German…


This rehearsal felt difficult.
As we arrived to the room it was locked. Having to send someone to fetch the key while trying to keep all the kids reasonably quiet is not ideal just before a rehearsal.

That day I picked up the pace a bit, and we went over several songs within 30 minutes. Listening back to the result, I am very pleased with the result. The repertoire is shaping up.

Even though something is becoming clear: we might sing an Autumn song and some Christmas songs int the spring!
I’ll make sure to add new songs fitting to the coming up seasons.


For this rehearsal, I experimented with a more interactive warm-up procedure. It’s easy to be interactive “first level” (repeat what I do, what I sing, what I play), but I wanted to take it to the next level of interactivity.
This time I demonstrated and lead a little warm exercise:
I sang-play a little beatbox pattern, both with singing and playing percussion on my body (torso, upper legs, and clapping hands)
asking them to repeat it. No problem.
And then I asked one or two of them to take my seat.
Basically to lead the warm-up procedure for the next 3 minutes
by standing in front of the group and sing-play beatbox patterns for the rest of us to repeat.
The kids loved it. All of them.
Even the most reserved ones insisted to participate and walk up in front of the group and improvise little beatbox patterns for the rest of us to repeat.

Then you hear some more traditional ear-training
and finally, we practiced our repertoire.
You can hear the first minute of “Drummer Boy”, which is a bit challenging, but the kids really love.
Listening back today – as aforementioned in the previous post – I realize we might be ready to perform this lovely Christmas in the Spring!

These two recent clips are shorter. This is probably going to be the general trend for the weeks / months to come, to keep more surprise effect in case of a live performance either in January or in May or June.

About Discipline, Coercive Authority and Non Violent Communication.

I work in another children’s choir where one of the mean to keep order is the old traditional Belohnung method. The prospect of a reward if you behave, with the implicit threat that this reward might be withdrawn if you don’t behave.

Having studied the basics of Non Violent Communication, I would like to avoid this, as I consider it a form of Violent Communication.
Or maybe i would consider reward without the threat of withdrawal-of-reward.


Extra C Choir Friday 14th 2020

This was our rehearsal of Friday the 14th of February 2020.

Now some kids who seemed a bit skeptical really seem to enjoy themselves.
It is is a real challenge to keep the group focused and quiet.
But proposing and developing a lively warm-up routine with fun unusual exercises seems to be effective.
Also, any exercises related to personal expression and the expression of feelings (laughing, whining, crying) always seem to catch their attention and even make them laugh.

And a little flashback to the 24th of January.
That day I brought a small trumpet and several mouth pieces, to show the kids. They loved it and most of them immediately wanted to try using a mouthpiece (to make that first “pbffff” sound) and then try the trumpet.

Playing the trumpet has so much to do with breathing – like singing -, so even just playing with a mouthpiece immediately triggers an awareness of how breathing and making a sound can be interrelated.

And this was also ont he 24th of January, and tiny bit of theory and a quick brush up on Rhythm, notation and reading.