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Holiday Carols I

Various Arrangers

Sound Music Publications SMP08-065

SATB, a cappella

There are three collections of Holiday Carols available from Sound Music Publications. Each one of them contains standard holiday fare arranged in new, creative ways. There is a broad range of styles and levels of difficulty included. Some have just a hint of jazz nuance and others commit all the way. There is something for every choral situation. Each collection contains around 15 carols so one packet provides years of choice material from some of the country’s finest arrangers.

Crazy in Love

Beyoncé Knowles, Rich Harrison, Shawn Carter, Eugene Record arr. Kerry Marsh


SSA with chord chart piano and notated bass and drums

This fun arrangement is based on the Puppini Sisters’ adaptation of Beyonce’s #1 hit.

Changed to an upbeat swing feel in the gypsy jazz style, this is a great vehicle for introducing close chord voicing. It is mostly homophonic with a solo section for improvisation and a bluesy word solo in the middle. It is also a great opportunity to include a fiddle and guitar student to the mix. Perfect for the audience or student body that is new to jazz!

Make Someone Happy

Adolph Green, Betty Comden arr. Matt Falker

Sound Music Publications SMP08-032

SSA or SAB, a cappella

In this arrangement, Matt Falker was able to create lush, full sounding jazz harmonies with fewer voices while maintaining great voice leading. This chart could be used with an advanced middle school group or high school ensemble.  As part of the Great American Song Book, it fits equally well on the Jazz or Choral concert program. It includes a lovely soprano solo. Everyone from Doris Day and Judi Garland to Aretha Franklin and The Supremes has recorded Make Someone Happy, making it a wonderful musical and historical teaching tool.

Freedom is a Voice

Bobby McFerrin and Russell Ferrante, arr. Tim Buchholz

Sound Music Publications SMP09-067

SATB with notated rhythm section parts (piano, bass, drums)

This arrangement encompasses everything you would expect from a Bobby McFerrin experience; worldly scat syllables, improvisation, beautiful melodic content, lush harmonies and groove-based spirituality. The syllable choices flow easily and the ending has a gospel-like feel to it. It would make a great song to incorporate into a circle song experience with your choirs or your audiences! With its catchy phrasing and inspiring word content, it makes a wonderful closer. I have used this chart with high level ensembles and with a few choirs of various ability at one time by splitting up the more difficult sections between them and bringing them together on the repetitive ending section.

Love You Madly

Duke Ellington, Jed Scott, Beth Bright arr. Jed Scott

UNC Jazz Press VJ2247

SSATB, rhythm section partially notated, 2 Tpt, Tbn, T. Sax.

This is a hard-swinging Duke Ellington classic! There are opportunities for soloists of any voice type and great room for improvisation. It includes a very clever shout chorus and over a dozen other Duke Ellington quotes throughout the arrangement. It is a wonderful opportunity for a Jazz History listening lesson about the Duke. The horn parts are fabulous so your band directors will be happy to be on board. I have used this with All-State Vocal Jazz ensembles and honors choirs. It is challenging, but it is so much fun the students won’t realize how hard they are working!


Brian Eichenberger arr. Jeremy Fox


SAATBB a cappella

This groove based song crosses over beautifully into contemporary a cappella, incorporating vocal percussion and an “instrumental” bass vocal line. It features a tenor solo throughout. It provides a great opportunity to work on your ensemble’s sense of time and rhythmic interpretation. The students will instantly relate to its modern sound while still being challenged by jazz elements.


Jennifer-Parker-200pxJennifer Parker

Repertoire & Standards Chair for Vocal Jazz
MacNally Smith College of Music


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J’Entend le Moulin

arr. Ruth E. Dwyer, Martin L. Ellis

Colla Voce 24-96460

SA, accompanied

Arranged by Dwyer and Ellis, this traditional French folk song is very accessible. Students (and teachers) have very little French to learn. This piece is also full of great teaching points. Students will be able to work on concepts like canon, crescendo, word painting, and theme and variation. Furthermore, the song is full of infectious, rhythmic energy.

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burnin’

arr. Greg Gilpin

Colla Voce 20-96425

SATB, accompanied

Also available, SAB 20-96435 and SA 20-96430

We have all sang arrangements of “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burnin.’” With a few twists and a well-written counter melody, the Gilpin arrangement is a favorite with my students. My students and I (ok, mainly just me) always end up dancing to the syncopated counter melody that has a sort of half time, hip hop sampling feel. There are teachable moments to study dynamic contrast and word stress throughout the piece. With SATB, SAB, and SA arrangements available, it can fit into any type of choral program.

Gloria Jubilate (A Jubilant Gloria)

Claren D. Wilson

Carl Fischer CM9400

3-Part Mixed, accompanied

Wilson’s “Gloria Jubilate” is a fresh take on a well-trodden text, set to Latin American-inspired rhythms. Furthermore, a major strength of this piece is the part writing. Often, young singers get bogged down in homophonic part writing. Wilson gives each voice a strong line, giving the sense of three concurrent melodies. Syncopation, articulation, word stress, and dynamic contrast are all concepts to be addressed.

Read ‘Em, John

Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory

Hal Leonard 00142047

2-Part, accompanied

Caldwell and Ivory tunes always seem to resonate with singers. “Read ‘Em, John” is an up-tempo piece based on the historic repertoire of “ring shouts” used on the Georgia and South Carolina Sea Islands. This bluesy piece gives opportunity to discuss mode and accidentals. Beyond the numerous teaching points, this is a wonderful piece for your young singers to just sing their little hearts out. The altos can start to experiment with some healthy chest production and the sopranos can soar into their upper range. I suggest going further with the performance and finding a solid drummer and bassist.

The Joy I Feel (An East African Medley)

arr. Tim Gregory

Hal Leonard 10297323

2-4part, unaccompanied

Authentic multicultural music is often hard to come by. Tim Gregory gives us a great glimpse into East African music with “The Joy I Feel.” Comprised of three stand-alone pieces, this arrangement is very flexible and will meet the needs of any program. It is written as 2-part, in a primarily call and response form. However, there is divisi throughout if desired. The most powerful aspect of teaching this piece are the field recordings. Letting students see and hear an authentic performance of the piece is extremely beneficial.

Cuncti Simus

Anonymous, ed. Ricardo Soto

Santa Barbara Music Publishing SBMP 306

Unison, optional accompaniment

“Cuncti Simus” is an edition from Llibre Vermell de Montserrat. The original melody dates back to the late 14th century. The score can be also found on CPDL. However, Soto includes some suggestions about instrumentation and performance ideas. Set in the Dorian mode this song is an earworm to end all earworms. Adding percussion, flute or other woodwinds, and a string instrument of some type will make the 14th century come alive!


Reid LarsenReid Larsen

Repertoire & Standards Chair for Middle Level/Jr. High Choirs
Cottage Grove Middle School
rlarsen1@sowashco.org; reid.larsen@gmail.com


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God be in my head

John Rutter

Oxford 9780193405516

SATB, unaccompanied

If you’re not the Westminster Abbey organist who was fired by the royal family for publicly criticizing Rutter on social media — Rutter is a favorite of Prince William and Kate Middleton — you may just like Rutter, as I do. This really simple two-page piece works well for post-communion, benediction, or wherever you need the couple minute musical spot. The ranges stay well within the ability of an average level choir. It also provides the opportunity to teach rubato in a simple setting. I’ve never had a choir who didn’t like this piece. I’ve used it with very small and large choirs alike.

Entrata Festiva

Flor Peeters

C.F. Peters: EP6159

Unison chorus, organ, opt. brass & timpani

Easter comes early this year. If you need something big but are short on rehearsal time, I strongly recommend this work by 20th century Belgian composer Flor Peeters. The organ part is accessible for any average organist, can be played with or without brass, and the choir part is unison which makes adding an additional choir, say your youth choir, pretty easy.

Verleih uns Frieden

Felix Mendelssohn

Public Domain (CPDL)

SATB, piano

This is one of my favorite Mendelssohn pieces. The piano part is gorgeous, the choral writing accessible, and the message universal. It begins with unison men, joined shortly by unison women. It is not until after the midway point that the choir is four-part, and the writing is so chorale-based that choirs do not struggle learning it. Because the piece is so approachable, learning the German is not difficult. Your choir will feel like they’ve accomplished something big here: major composer, foreign language, and overall enjoyable and rewarding for both singer and listener. The universal text makes this appropriate almost any time of year:

In these our days so perilous
Lord, peace in mercy send us;
No God but thee can fight for us,
No God but thee defend us;
Thou our only God and Savior.

In the bleak midwinter

Gustav Holst

Public Domain (CPDL)


Yep, it’s still winter and will be for some time. This is another approachable work. Holst’s setting is not like the Darke or Chilcott versions you may know. This is a hymn setting, but it’s really easy to make it sound like an anthem. On the first and last verses I have the choir sing in four parts with the organ or piano doubling. For the middle verses, I have the choir sing on a soft “oo” or hum and choose a soloist for the melody. If you have a youth or adult parishioner who plays an instrument, have them play one of the solo verses for added texture and color contrast. Since this is found in most hymnals, you won’t need to purchase it; it’s also on CPDL.

When the morning stars together

K. Lee Scott

CGA 707

Unison, SATB with organ, opt. handbells, trumpet

This piece is a great way to combine multiple elements of your music department and also the congregation (if you wish). You can choose any number of combinations: SATB choir, unison choir, handbells, trumpet, organ or piano. The congregation part is already printed (included) so you can print it in the bulletin if you want them to sing as well. The piece provides a big pay off without needing to spend loads of rehearsal time preparing.

Nunc Dimittis in G

Charles Villiers Stanford

Public Domain (CPDL)

SATB, soloist

If you’ve ever attended a choral evensong, you have likely seen the Nunc dimittis, also known as the Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32) paired with the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). English composers have written “Mag and Nunc” settings for centuries. If you ever hear anyone refer to a choral piece by only the composer and the key they are talking about a “Magnificat and Nunc dimittis” setting. The Stanford in G is particularly gorgeous. I have chosen just the Nunc dimittis in this case because it works so well on it’s own. The ranges stay comfortable and low for the most part. The trickiest element is that you need a baritone/bass soloist. This work has also been popular with small and large choirs alike.


VOGT-PHOTO_200pxDr. Sean Vogt

Repertoire and Standards Chair—Music and Worship
The Apollo Club, Artistic Director and Conductor
Cathedral of Saint Paul, Choirmaster


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Words and Music by Carl Björsell, Tebey Ottoh, Didrik Thott, Sebastian Thott, arr. Anita Cracauer (music@customarrangments.net)

Available from the arranger at her website:

SATB or SSA with show band accompaniment (Piano, Synth, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Percussion, Violin, Trumpet I & II, Trombone I & II, Alto Sax I & II, Bari Sax I & II)*

Roads appears on the debut album of Chris Mann, who competed on season two of The Voice. The lyrics reference our individual journeys through life; the general nature of the text lends itself to a number of themes. I particularly love the modulation in this piece; it is so exciting and makes a memorable impression. Roads is appropriate not only for a show choir, but also for a concert choir at a spring concert or graduation. Visually, the pop rhythms look more difficult than they sound; however, arranger Anita Cracauer does a stellar job writing such rhythms without making them unnecessarily complex. While the rhythms might not readily lend themselves to sight singing, the pitches are suitable to sight singing as part of the learning process. You might also allow the students to improvise and harmonize as a group over the chord structure as part of the warm up process.


Anita Cracauer (music@customarrangments.net)

Available from the composer/arranger at her website:

SATB or SSA with show band accompaniment (Piano, Synth, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Percussion, Trumpet I & II, Trombone I & II, Alto & Tenor Sax)*

This original composition makes a perfect opener or closer with its dance-style, driving beat. The vocals are set in solid, four-part writing with minimal divisi in the women’s lines. There are not standard, predictable verses in between the choruses; I specifically loved the men’s “break-down” after the first chorus. There is a female solo to open the selection and opportunities for dance breaks of various lengths. I am always looking for a chance to discuss music theory concepts with show choirs. This one has the opportunity to address several. The rhythms are sight-readable; additionally the piece is set in multiple minor keys with chromatic harmonic structure. Expressively, slow crescendo, sforzando, and acclerando can all be reviewed.

Never Neverland (Fly Away)

Scott Alan, arr. by Anita Cracauer (music@customarrangments.net)

Available from the arranger at her website:

SATB or SSA with show band accompaniment (Piano, Bass, Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Synth, Trumpet I, II, & III, Trombone I & II, Alto & Tenor Sax)*

My choreographer and I were planning a “flying” themed show when I asked my arranger to set Never Neverland for us. He said one of his colleagues had recently set it, and quite frankly, he did not think he could do it better. In retrospect, I concur with his assessment of the beauty of this piece; Anita Cracauer’s arrangement is one of my favorite show choir ballads ever. This is a modern Broadway style ballad, which will require a soprano soloist to open and close the selection. The solo sits nicely in the mid-range of the female voice, allowing many altos to feel comfortable taking a chance on this beautiful solo. Appropriate facial expression while singing can be a challenge with any choir (even a show choir); certain texts can be a trying task for students to appear engaged. A song with lyrics/text like Never Neverland allows students to easily put on their “story-telling” faces, reminiscing about childhood with its Peter Pan references.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Jeffery Bowen (songsrus@showchoirmusic.com)

Available from the composer through his website:

SATB with show band accompaniment (Trumpet I & II, Trombone, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Synth, Guitar, Electric Bass, Drums and Percussion)**

This is an upbeat song about being free to express yourself, anytime and anywhere. Layout is Verse 1, Chorus 1, Verse 2, Chorus 2, Dance Break 1, Bridge, Dance Break 2, Chorus to end. This piece was performed by Columbia Academy (MS) and Benton Community High School (IA). Sight-singing is a possibility with this selection, particularly in the chorus, which might lend itself especially well to reading on solfege. Following the second chorus, there is a little syncopated section on an “oh” vowel; a snap is a perfect gesture to assist when sight-singing with eighth rests. The verse directly following the chorus has the men echoing the women, a great opportunity to discuss listening skills in order to match dynamic levels.

I’m Fabulous

Jeffery Bowen (songsrus@showchoirmusic.com)

Available from the composer through his website:

SSA with show band accompaniment (Trumpet I & II, Trombone, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Synth, Guitar, Electric Bass, Drums and Percussion)**

This novelty song is all about divas! The lyrics are catchy, yet over the top, making it a great feature number. Layout is Verse 1, Chorus 1, Verse 2, Dance Break, Bridge, Chorus to end. This piece was performed by Midlothian High School (VA) and East Noble High School (IN). The verse of this particular piece sits a little low in the voice for sopranos. Rather than having sopranos try to press for volume in this particular section, try having them almost speak the line on the pitch rather than trying to sing it. I have this issue in musical theatre repertoire, and this is a little trick that often works for me; I also use it in women’s choirs when the alto II line starts to get excessively low.

From the Dark to the Light

Jeffery Bowen (songsrus@showchoirmusic.com)

Available from the composer through his website:

SATB with show band accompaniment (Trumpet I & II, Trombone, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Synth, Guitar, Electric Bass, Drums and Percussion)

This ballad reflects on life leaving the dark and not being scared to come forward, into the light. This piece was written for and performed by Crete-Monee High School (IL). With the verse in the lower part of the range and the chorus in the upper part of the range, this piece presents a great opportunity to talk about tone color. Young singers often do not display consistency in tone color throughout their tessitura, singing with a weight in their lower range that does not match their upper range. The particular range of this piece is a perfect opportunity to address matching tone color appropriately throughout the voice.

*In addition to the vocal/piano score, all of the instrumental parts, a full score, and rehearsal tracks with and without vocals are included. While there is not the option to have band parts re-orchestrated for her catalogue charts, there is no charge for transposition.

**In addition to the vocal/piano score, all of the instrumental parts, a full score, and a computer generated reference mp3 file, with and without vocals, are included. Services for transposition and re-orchestration of band parts are available for a $75.00 charge each.


Erynn-MillardDr. Erynn Millard

Repertoire and Standards Chair for Show Choir
Director of Choral Activities and
Professor of Choral Music Education
Minnesota State University Moorhead