This Spring, I have purposefully programmed music that is easier than what I’ve chosen in the past. I’ve decided to err on the side of giving the students music which is more easily within their grasp instead of overwhelming them with difficult music. I still want to challenge them with new musical concepts, but not necessarily in the context of concert selections.
With that said, here’s what’s in my Concert Band’s folders:
Distant Journey by Paul Lavender. This is written at the Essential Elements Explorer Level, and correlates with page 11 of the method book. I’m drawn to easy music in minor keys, and this one fits both of those descriptions.
Intensity by Sean O’Loughlin. It’s labeled as “Very Easy Band,” although the ranges get pretty high. In my humble opinion, a written D for trumpet is not “very easy.” Nevertheless, the piece is well-written and rehearses easily.
Latin Fire by John Higgins. Essential Elements Performer Level, and correlates with page 24 of the method book. This is a good choice for young groups who are ready for a little challenge. It uses lots of the musical concepts from the later pages of the method book, including dotted-quarter/eighth rhythms, slurs, accidentals, accents, and dynamic changes.
Let’s Go Band arranged by Andrew Balent. A perennial favorite. To give you and idea of how well-liked this piece is, I programmed it last year after hearing another school perform it. A colleague of mine heard my groups perform it and wanted to include it in her repertoire also. My students keep asking to play this one in rehearsals.
Pirates’ Cave by Mark Williams. Labeled as Grade ½, Very Easy, and correlates with page 13 of the Accent on Achievement method book. Similar in style to Distant Journey (and a million other pieces), this is in G minor and uses the only first seven notes typically taught in beginning band. My students ask for this one often.
Simple Gifts arranged by Jack Bullock. Belwin classifies this piece as “Very Beginning Band,” but the clarinet ranges make me disagree with that “very beginning” label. Coincidentally, Yo-Yo Ma and Itztak Perlman and company performed a John Williams arrangement of Simple Gifts at the President Obama’s inauguration ceremony. I plan to include this piece in my Spring Concerts, highlighting the fact that it was featured at the inauguration.
Do you have any experience with the above music? Have you found a new gem for young bands? Share your thoughts!