“Why are we doing this piece?” “Do we HAVE to sing this song?” “Ugh!”
Sometimes I wonder if you think I choose music specifically to torture you! I really don’t. There are reasons behind every piece of music we do in chorus, handbells, and even general music. I thought you might be interested in why I make the musical choices I do.
My first concern is, “what can we learn by studying this piece of music?” I take into account the class, its level of experience, and the difficulty of the music. I try to find music that will present new challenges, but not be so difficult that you will be frustrated trying to learn it. On the other hand, if the piece is too easy, you aren’t likely to learn anything.
Next, I try to look for music that contrasts with the other pieces we are learning. If everything is slow and legato, it’s going to be boring. I try to mix up styles, tempos, meters, and basically include a wide variety of music. This also helps when I’m putting together a program for a performance, because we want to perform a variety of music to keep our audience’s interest.
Finally, I ask myself if I like the music. I probably spend twice as much time with a piece as you do. I study the score, singing and playing through parts, planning how to teach it, anticipating problems, etc. If I don’t like it, we won’t do it. However, I won’t drop a song until I’ve been through it a minimum of six times.
So that’s the process of how I choose music for our classes. But I’m always open to suggestions. How would you do it, if you were in my place?