Pick Six By:
Repertoire & Resources Chair for Middle Level/Jr. High Choirs
Cottage Grove Middle School
J’Entend le Moulin
arr. Ruth E. Dwyer, Martin L. Ellis
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
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
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
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
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.
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!