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Need help with choosing repertoire!

I am a first year teacher that works in an urban high school. This school has not had a choir for five years, and I have been charged with starting one. I am mainly an instrumentalist, so the choral world is just now fully opening up to me. My main focus is starting a chamber choir, which I currently have 12 females and 2 males. I have NO IDEA what repertoire to study with them, but I do know it can't be anything corny. Easy music would be nice too, since most of these students have never been in a choir before. ]
Thank you in advance for your assistance!
on February 14, 2012 2:38am
I will start by suggesting...

Va pensiero from Nabucco by Verdi (granted, intended for a larger group, but it is a gorgeous piece with much unison singing and the harmonies doubled by men and women).

Canons like Praetorius Jubilate Deo

Perhaps some rousing spirituals with piano, leaving out some men's parts if needed, Swinging with the Saints, Chariot's Coming', or some good simple slow ones like Hogan's Steal Away or Hush Somebody's Calling my Name. Perhaps The Storm is Passing Over or Lauridsen's Dirait-on.

on February 14, 2012 4:49am
Hi Thomas -
Congratulations!  At times you will feel like your job is more missionary work for the choral arts than anything else. The key is to work on music that you LOVE so that your enthusiasm and passion will rub off on your students. You may wish to try one of the many arrangements of Purcell's "Sound the Trumpet" - two-part, but tons of fun to sing, lots of fine teachable moments and great music. The other selection that comes to mind (when the boys are able to sing independently) is the Hal Hopson arrangement of the Boyce Canon "Let the Praise Go Round" - everyone learns the three main themes and off you go.
What an adventure you are in for!
Best wishes,
on February 14, 2012 5:36am
I have some free arrangements of various Robert Burns songs for <4-part choir - they can all be seen here:
Here's a two-part arrangement (could be sung with tenor(s) doubling sopranos and bass(es) doubling altos):
and a three-part arrangement for SAB with the two guys singing together:
Let me know if that's the sort of thing you're looking for. The above songs are free for non-profit use such as school choirs (though if you've got a music budget then a contribution would be nice).
on February 14, 2012 6:15am
I would recommmend strongly-rhythmed, upbeat pieces in 2 or 3 parts, where some females might be able to sing with the males. The South African freedom song, "Freedom is Coming" comes to mind. With beginners I also often use an Italian song a friend transcribed off an old LP, "Io Mene Vado," if you'd like to try non-English. Both are a cappella but rewarding to sing with a minimum of work. Let me know if you'd like pdfs of the music.
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