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Freshen Up Your Repertoire for Spring

Lesley Schultz • March 2022String Section • March 18, 2022

You could say I have had a lot of time on my hands recently to listen to the newest, latest and greatest in string orchestra rep, and you would be partially correct! I have been busy recovering from an illness, but I have also had some time to look at all the great newer pieces that have been published recently. So, no matter your level of orchestra, hopefully here are some brilliant suggestions to freshen up your repertoire for spring.

Coming in the level 1-2 area is Night Legend, composed by David Hinds and published by Excelcia Music Publishing LLC. Night Legend is something in your library that would be versatile for a fast-moving first year group that wants more, or a year two group that needs more reinforcement on the basics. This would also be a great fall concert selection for almost any second-year group. Night Legend is key centered in E minor, but also includes C-sharps in the first violin and cello as accidentals offering a good practice of the different finger patterns. It offers an excellent opportunity to talk about levels of dynamics for the whole ensemble as well.  

In the solid level 2 range is Susan Day’s Chaps ‘n Spurs published by Grand Mesa Music. Not designed to be a fiery fiddle tune in tempo (Think “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X tempo) this piece features scooped pitches, and simple double stops to add to the fun. Teach your ensemble syncopated rhythms with the syncopations included. If you are technology inclined, try putting a slow hip-hop or trap beat behind it, at least for rehearsal, and that will spice it up for you and your students!  

For your third year or higher groups, take that syncopation even further with syncopation in 6/8 time with Katie O’Hara LaBrie’s Pride of the Highlands published by FJH. This features three Celtic/Scottish styles of airs, marches and reels.  First violins, celli and bass have some position work, and everyone except bass has some double stops to wrestle with. If you are looking to welcome spring with something different in the Celtic arena, this will serve you well.

Do you have a rockstar cello section full of upperclassmen that need a feature? If so, then Cellonator by Karen Kroger, published by String Riffs, is for you. It features a cello solo (or could be soli) and is loads of fun for the entire orchestra. The orchestra will have a lot to do with rock style, chromatics, first violins to 4th/5th position and, of course learning to listen across the ensemble for a soloist (or soloist group). This would be the perfect opener or closer to any spring concert.   

The important thing with new music is to choose something that has at least some staying power, and while it may be for your year two group this year, perhaps it could be for your year one group in the future. A wide and diverse library is important, so make sure you choose a variety of pieces to make sure your concerts don’t get stuck in a rut. Also, don’t be afraid if you have an extensive library to go library diving for some oldies but goodies. If budget money is running low, then perhaps ask other orchestras in your area if they might have something (particularly if it is not so new) and borrow a piece. We are all in this together! Freshening up your repertoire with new things and new ideas can be just what you need to keep student engagement going and a student’s adults interested.  

Lesley Schultz currently teaches secondary general music and orchestra at Princeton City Schools (Cincinnati, OH). She earned her Bachelors of Music Education from West Virginia University and her Masters of Music Education from Ohio University. Lesley is a Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Lesley keeps an active performing schedule around the state of Ohio, performing with several regional symphonies on viola. She is a member of TI:ME (Technology In Music Education) and serves as the Ohio Chapter president and on the national conference committee. Lesley is a columnist for SBO Magazine. Currently she is relearning how to walk! In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, watching West Virginia Mountaineer sports and spending time with her family and making TikToks about her cats.

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