Pick Six By:
Repertoire & Resources Chair for High Scholl Choirs
Virginia High School
Hold Me, Rock Me
Also available: SSAB, SSAA
This very accessible piece is a great way to introduce a cappella singing to beginning high school singers, but it also has enough substance for use with a more advanced group. It utilizes repetitive patterns that can make it a relatively quick learn, and makes the idea of a cappella singing less daunting. The verses work as either a solo or as an entire section. If your sight-reading curriculum includes singing pieces using solfege, the simple harmonic structure of this piece really works well with solfege use.
Nine Hundred Miles
arr. Philip E. Silvey
Santa Barbara Music Publishing: SBMP 518
Also available: SAB, SA, TBB
Nine Hundred Miles is a great piece for beginning high school groups. It’s got a little bit of everything. The setting is in minor with a fun hook in the accompaniment part that get students interested right away. The ranges for the men are very singable with the baritones staying within a fifth. There is a healthy combination of unison and two-part for the men as well. Similarly, the alto and soprano voice leading allows for lots of development within the sections. Combined with a meaningful text and a lot of dramatic phrases, this piece will have your beginning high school singers singing confident four part harmonies right away.
Z. Randall Stroope
Aberdeen Music Inc: 45-21102
SATB div. accompanied
From Stroope’s “Where the Earth Meets the Sky,” this piece is a relatively simple setting, but it packs a lot of great moments. With a good amount of unison singing in each section, your students will be able to learn this piece quickly, so it’s a great way to start the year. The voice leading into the harmonies, especially at the high point, makes them each line singable, again allowing for your students early success. You will be able to address issues of shaping, dynamics, and text very quickly with this piece, ultimately making it a more education and meaningful experience.
Yonder Come Day
arr. Paul John Rudoi
Galaxy Music Corporation: 1.3465
SATB div, Soprano Solo, unaccompanied
Also available: SSAA, TTBB
Drawing from several spirituals, Yonder Come Day is an exciting and fun piece. The rhythmic complexity of this piece is lessened by the amount of repetition that is used. Once you learn the basic formula, only small changes exist from verse to verse. In addition to the rhythm, the use of chromaticism, some dissonant harmonies, and the ranges make this more suitable for an advanced high school group, and the alternate voices allow a wide variety of options. With the added percussion and ad-lib solos, this piece has an “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of feel to it, and that is what’s so great about it. This piece would work well as an opener or a closer.
Afternoon on a Hill
Walton Music: WW1394
This piece is an exercise in text painting. From the accompaniment to the vocal lines, every phrase is written with the text in mind. There are lots of unique techniques that will keep your students and the audience guessing as they explore the world created by the composer. More dissonant harmonies and an ever-changing tempo build to the high point that your singers will love. Other elements, such as the tenors and sopranos mimicking the sound of wind, make this a fun piece to sing. Its nature theme makes it a great programmatic piece, but it can also stand alone in a generic concert.
arr. Bill Ives
Hal Leonard Corporation: 08744452
Who doesn’t love the Beetles or the King’s Singers? This is a fun pop tune that still requires a more serious choral mindset. Your singers will love you for having a pop song and you will love it because it is not written like a lot of other pop arrangements. But don’t get too serious. If you need your singers to get excited about something towards the end of the year, this is a great piece for a spring concert. If you don’t have a strong four part men’s section, don’t feel like you have to stick to the parts as written. The alto part works as a soprano two part, and the tenor one part works as an alto part. You can experiment and use what works best with your group.