Selecting repertoire is one of the most important tasks a music teacher faces. While it can be difficult, it can also be a lot of fun!
- Foundation of most curricula
- Motivates students (or not!)
- Wide variety of music to choose from
- Can determine the success of your program!
Is it worthwhile?
- Are their contrasts in musical style?
- Does it provide aesthetic appeal?
- Does it have audience appeal?
- Does it have meaning or portray emotion?
What are our ultimate goals??
- Have students learn how to be good musicians
- TO SOUND AMAZING!
- How many pieces?
- Think number of ensembles, concerts, levels
- Determine the level of your students
- What are the required skills to play this piece?
- We can’t predict the future, but be must try!
- How do we know what is appropriate?
Assess group by sightreading different levels
- Assess each sections and their strengths
- How much can you successfully play on the first attempt?
- What is the “formula?”
- Divisi, etc.
- Equipment needs
- Strengths & weaknesses of players, sections
- Solo, soli, unison
- Range, position work, etc.
- Are the parts already bowed/edited?
- Reinforce newly learned technical skills through literature
- Don’t introduce too many skills at once
- Consider arrangements of standard literature in addition to original works
- Find pieces correlated with your method book
- Select music from a variety of publishers
- Don’t limit yourself to just a few composers or arrangers.
- At the beginning of the year review learned concepts, then choose music
- Where will you be performing?
- Choose music that is reachable, yet challenging = more practice!
- Happens to everyone at some point
- Don’t let it happen to you (again!)
- How much of a piece should students be able to read from sight the FIRST time?
- Concert too long, too difficult, etc.
- Balance is key
- The “safe” piece
- The “reach” piece
- Select music that will show your best!
- How long do you REALLY need to work on this music?
- Are you teaching students to be musicians or are you teaching the music?
- If music is the appropriate level, it should not take 3 months to prepare for adjudication.
What’s wrong with this program?
The pieces are great, but they are all the SAME! Similar tempo, key, etc.
Music for recruiting demonstrations
- Top group or beginning group?
- Future student appeal
- Must be able to allow future students to see themselves in current students’ shoes
Don’t forget to teach the technical skills!!
- Book 1 – teaches the foundations
- Book 2 – Yes, you should use a book 2!
- Book 3 and beyond – advanced skills
New Bowing Styles
- Write out rhythm/bowing patterns, learn techniques by rote.
- Reinforce with scales, etc.
New Time Signatures
- Find literature to reinforce
- Use or create rhythm worksheets to isolate rhythm skills, then combine with previously learned skills.
Learn Your Notes
- G-string Notes – March of the Metrognome (Hubbel, Kendor)
- F-sharp/C-natural (Mixed Finger Patterns) – Fiddles on Fire (Mark Williams, Alfred)
Make optional position work mandatory!
- Makes “easy” music more challenging.
- Brings out a mature sound
- Can unify tone quality
- Example: A Modal Festival (Marsh, Hal Leonard)
Some Personal Favorites
- Grade .5 – New World Symphony Theme (Michael Allen, Hal Leonard)
- Grade 1 – First Scale March (Mark Williams, Alfred)
- Grade 1 – String Explosion (Frank Rogers, Frank Rogers Music)
- Grade 1.5 – Elegy and Dance (Richard Meyer, Alfred)
- Grade 2 – M to the Third Power (Carold Nuñez, Shawnee Press)
- Grade 2.5 – Vanguard Overture (Richard Stephan, Kjos)
- Grade 3 – The Gift (William Hofeldt, Kjos)
- Grade 4.5 – Suite for Strings (John Rutter, Oxford)
- Grade 5 – Prelude (Gerald Finzi, Boosey & Hawkes)
Favorite Pop Charts
- Grade 2 – The Pink Panther (Mancini, arr. Caponegro, Kendor)
- Grade 2 – Colors of the Wind (Menken/Higgins, Hal Leonard)
- Grade 4 – The Magical World of Pixar (arr. Longfield, Hal Leonard)
- Violin: Celtica with a grade 1 or grade 4 solo (Brian Balmages, FJH)
- Viola: Santa Plays the Viola (Mark Williams, Alfred)
- Cello: Cellos Ole! (Richard Meyer, Alfred)
- Double Bass: Revenge of the Double Bass (Reinagle/Allen, Hal Leonard)
In the Style of…
- Aaron Copland… Iowa Spring (Paul Seitz, Latham, Grade 2)
- Shostakovich… Chapter One (Carold Nuñez, Kjos, Grade 3.5)
Great ways to explore repertoire!
- Web audio (MP3, etc.)
- Score previews (PDF)
- New: Live conductor’s score with audio! “Score Play” on YouTube (Hal Leonard)
Your core list
- Study the literature to come up with your own core list.
- You then have “safe” pieces to use in a rotation, if necessary.
Sources for orchestra lists
- Strategies for Teaching Strings by Hamann & Gillespie (Oxford Univ. Press)
- Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra, 3 Vols. w/ CD (GIA Publications)
- All of the literature in these books is great!!
- State Contest Lists
- String and Orchestra Teachers Facebook Group = search archives
- Let students have some input on repertoire selection. (Easy to do this and still get what you want!)
- Push the classical envelope to bring out the cool factor
- Balance without overprograming!
Discuss your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!