Choosing Elementary Choir Repertoire

Each Fall semester, my after-school choir performs six pieces, give or take. The choir is made up of fourth and fifth graders and meets for approximately fifty minutes once a week. Students have the opportunity to perform a variety of pieces and experience musical training beyond the classroom.

Program selections usually include unison or two-part octavos from the following categories: Patriotic, Foreign Language, Musical, Classical, Folk Song Medley, Round or Canon, and Novelty. It’s likely that one or more will be lyrical, but there should be variety in tempo and style. Once I’ve made the selections, it’s time to consider program order.

When programming the concert order, I always decide on the final piece first. It’s the last thing the audience will hear, and will leave a lasting impression. Therefore, the choir must know it and sing it with confidence!

Next, I choose the opening piece, usually an upbeat selection. Sometimes it is a foreign language pick if my choir loves to sing it and it showcases them well. In every case, I try to choose a song that will grab the audience from the opening notes.

The pieces between the opening and closing are carefully planned as well. I consider tempo, key signature, choreography, and style. If the classical selection is not in English, I may place a song between the classical and foreign language selections.

Finally, the students become stakeholders in the choir with opportunities to shine. Choir members  introduce each piece and give opening and closing remarks. (I write the speaking parts.) Others bring out flowers for the accompanist, fold programs, and various other tasks throughout the semester.

How do you plan your programs? Do you have a winning octavo to share?