Bubble Trouble by Stephen Lawrence, published Alfred is a fun selection with great choreography possibilities. I like that it tells kids that they shouldn’t chew gum in choir – one of my pet peeves. Here’s a fun performance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFMqfjtMPrc
Link to OCTAVO.
For a lyrical ballad, A Wish for Peace is really nice. It was originally written for Christmas (A Christmas Wish), but only 3 words need to be changed and you can do it for any time of year. Instead of “this Christmas time” sing “all these things.” Lovely performance here by York House School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbRwA8qW6ZE By Denise Gagne and Craig Cassils. This is available as a single song kit, so you can get music into all your students hands for just $15. Link to Single Song Kit Download on US site. Here is the link for Canadian teachers.
Amani Utupe, Sally Albrecht, pub. Alfred
I first used this when it was part of MENC Music Monday. Have used it many times since. It’s a great piece. This is a wonderful vocal performance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2844ORtcAo Other YouTube performances show the choreography.
Link to Octavo
Donkey Riding is a good fun selection – it’s in Musicplay 3 (and a single song kit). BCMEA Honor choir performed it a few years ago. Donkey Riding is quick and fun. It’s got some interesting articulations in it – I use it to teach staccato and accent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PDHkPq8Hdo Here’s a link to the single song kit for Canadian Teachers. Here’s the link for teachers in USA.
Two Canadian Folk Songs is a lovely partner song that uses Land of the Silver Birch and Two Canadian Folk Songs. It’s in the Musicplay curriculum in 4th grade, and is also available as a single song kit. See a movie of the song at www.musicplayonline.com . Link to Single Song Kit for Canadian Teachers. Link for US teachers.
Ghost Ship, from Reflections of a Lad at Sea, Don Besig
This is a piece with great story telling in it. The students loved it, the audiences loved it and we got a recommendation to provincials with it – and we weren’t the only choir doing it at provincials.
Link to Octavo
Don Gato, Ray Doughty – Plymouth Music Co. Inc.
Don Gato, arranged by Ray Doughty, is a favorite Mexican folk song children love to sing. Doughty has written this song for two-part treble voices and piano. The voices sing in unison for much of the piece. The middle section on pages four and five has the voices singing in brief two-part harmony, as well as in the final few measures. Don Gato is a Mexican cat who falls in love with a fluffy, white female kitten. When she agrees to marry him, he happily jumps in the air, falls off the roof breaking his ‘solar-plexus,’ and dies. However, by the end of the story he is reincarnated, comes back to life and all ends happily. There is a dramatic piano accompaniment that assists in creating the dramatic quality of this piece. Don Gato could be performed with a brief dramatic skit as the chorus sings. There are a couple of tempo changes but nothing too difficult for an elementary chorus. A few Spanish words are included. This piece is great fun for children to sing and audiences will truly enjoy listening to it. The tempo changes and dramatic dynamics make this an excellent ‘teaching concept’ piece. “Ole!”
LINK to Octavo.
Humpty Dumpty by Dave and Jean Perry is fun – several choirs did it last year in our Symphony Kids concert last year. It tells the story of Humpty Dumpty with some dramatic touches. I love pieces that have lots of contrast and this one has great contrast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYmxVGDAnfU Link to Octavo.
Child of the Universe, Craig Cassils
This is a lovely lyrical piece with a beautiful message. The range gets your students into head voice. There are a few places where students might mix up words, but with enough rehearsal it’s a stunning performance piece.
LINK to Octavo.
When I Believe in Me, from Musicplay 5 is another really good message song for kids, from Musicplay 5 – very easy 2 part. It’s a great selection for an Olympics year, a Dare graduation, or an elementary graduation. Link for Canadian Teachers. Link for teachers from USA.
Make a Difference, Denise Gagne – Musicplay 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGjlkIkQiVs This selection is in unison, and is easily learned by a primary choir. The message is meaningful even to young children – they can make a difference in the world. The included choreography enhances the performance of the song. It’s part of the Musicplay curriculum, and is available as a single song kit from Themes. (www.musicplay.ca – select country – select song collections – select single song kits) Single song kits include the piano/vocal score, vocal reproducible score, MP3s of performance and accompaniment, and if available a PPT or PDF projectable. Link for USA teachers. Link for Canadian teachers.
Jabulani is a Zulu word meaning “rejoice.” It is often used as a first name, and in that context is often shortened to “Jabu.” Although the word comes from Africa, the song could be used anywhere in the world – sort of a universal celebration. You could this song as your opening song for a multicultural concert or you could use the song to celebrate Heritage Day – a South African public holiday celebrated on September 24th. The performance is by a school in Ontario, and the looks on the children’s faces as they perform shows their love of the song. It really makes a connection with the audience. The song is available (print/download) in the collection Celebrate Around the World (US link) Canadian Link to collection, and is also available as a single song kit. Link for Canadian Teachers. Link for teachers in USA. YouTube performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQjhhuVxq5I
Siyahamba – Musicplay 6
This arrangement of the familiar South African hymn is given in Zulu and in English. I’ve performed this very successfully with a grade 4-5 choir, accompanied by drummers. It’s very appealing to the kids and audiences both. It’s part of the Musicplay curriculum, and is available as a single song kit from Themes. Single song kits include the piano/vocal score, vocal reproducible score, MP3s of performance and accompaniment, and if available a PPT or PDF projectable. Link for Canadian Teachers.
Link for teachers in USA.
Share your favorite choral performance pieces in the comments! There will be a follow up post with more choral pieces from Musicplay that are available as single song kits. And be sure to try out www.musicplayonline.com – you can access all the choral pieces from Musicplay mentioned in this blog online!