K-12 Resources: Repertoire Selections for School Choirs

Cheryl Dupont • ChoralCornerMarch 2024 • March 30, 2024

Submitted by Angee and Rick McKee
– Mrs. Jenny Wren
by Arthur Baynon. Unison voices and piano, for elementary choirs. This piece is great for teaching contrasting dynamics and expression in younger choirs. 

– We Will Sing for Joy by D. Scarlatti arr. Helenclair Lowe. Unison voices and piano, for elementary or middle school treble choirs. There are many opportunities for teaching musical literacy skills in this setting of Scarlatti’s work. A lovely example of a Baroque piece for young choirs. 

– April by Richard E. McKee (text by Sara Teasdale). Unison Voices and piano, for young singers. This setting of Teasdale’s poem promotes lyric singing with a great text. 

Dust of Snow by Richard E. McKee (text by Robert Frost). Two-part and piano, for young voices. A wonderful poem by Robert Frost set to a melody perfect for young voices. Utilizes simple canonic harmony. 

Yonder Come Day arr. by Judith Cook Tucker. Unison/3-prt, for young singers. A traditional Georgia Sea Island Song. Although scored quite low, it works well for young choirs when raised a fifth (composer includes suggestion for adjusting the key). It provides a great introduction to harmony. The song has an interesting historical background, originating from the unique culture of the Gullah tradition. 

Pie Jesu by Tom Shelton. Unison with piano, for young choirs. Shelton’s Pie Jesu is an easily accessible setting of this Latin text. It is written in a perfect range for elementary choirs. The oboe accompaniment enhances the lovely melody. 

Submitted by Debbie Mello

A Melody of Love, Jim Papoulis. With descant, piano & percussion, for middle school treble. Very accessible for a middle school treble choir with sections of unison, two-part, and added descant. The message of one voice singing a melody of love is timely. This piece was composed with treble singers in a composing workshop led by Jim. While there is an underlying rhythmic vitality, it is subtler than some of the composer’s other compositions. 

Flight, Craig Carnelia (composer and poet) arr. Ryan Murphy. SA divisi or SSA with piano or opt. string quartet; for high school or advanced middle school choirs. Contemporary text that is relevant for young female singers. It affords an opportunity for the singers to be vocally expressive while being supported by a lush accompaniment. 

– I Count it all Joy, Jocelyn Hagen. SSA—advanced high school with piano, harp and violin. This piece was written about a young violinist who passed away too young. It is a thoughtful and inspiring piece for singers to consider the joy of music making and contemplates a life ended too soon. The violin represents the young woman and is used, particularly at the end of the piece, in a flourish to signify her ascent and effectively paint the text. The recurring “Alleluia” motive provides an opportunity to refi ne unison singing. 

Submitted by Kevin Caparotta

– Song of Peace, Vincent Persichetti. TTBB with piano or organ, appropriate for advanced high school singers. Song of Peace utilizes modal melodic gestures and unexpected harmonic shifts to effectively paint the text. The recurring “Alleluia” motive provides an opportunity to refine unison singing, and the four-part sections are wonderful for practicing ear-training and intonation. 

Poor Wayfaring Stranger arr. Victor C. Johnson. TTB with piano, appropriate for developing voices. This arrangement of an American folk song features a pentatonic melody and comfortable ranges for developing voices. There are numerous opportunities to explore word stress and phrasing. Each verse receives a different treatment, and the only four-part divisi is in the final measures of the piece.

Submitted by Cheryl Dupont

Lo How a Rose/The Rose, Craig Hella Johnson. SAB with piano, for middle school/beginner high school. Johnson masterfully weaves together this beautiful Christmas melody with the popular song, “The Rose,” as sung by Bette Midler, which is an unlikely but beautiful combination. It is easily accessible to middle school singers and can provide an interesting and unusual addition to any holiday program. 

The Pasture, Z. Randall Stroope. SATB with piano, appropriate for middle school/high school. This beautiful Robert Frost poem is expressively set to music by Z. Randall Stroope. It is easily accessible to middle school singers, but also can be exquisitely sung by high school singers, who might be able to achieve more nuance and expressivity. It offers the opportunity for both the SA singers and the TB singers to sing separately in two parts, and then join at the end, in SSATBB divisi for only a few measures. 

Flight Song, Kim Andre Arnesen. SATB with divisi and piano This piece was written as a gift to Dr. Anton Armstrong and the St. Olaf Choir. The text was written by Euan Tait and is set to lyrical music by Arnesen. It is moderately difficult for high school singers. The text is one that will resonate with many singers. There are many opportunities to work on phrasing, dynamics, and interpretation. It begins with “All we are we have found in song.”

Unclouded Day, Shawn Kirschner. SSAATTBB a capella, for advanced high school. “Unclouded Day” is an eight-part setting of the treasured gospel tune by J. K. Allred. This piece offers advanced high school-age choirs the opportunity to sing a cappella with divisi. While the first verse is straightforward, the ensuing verses feature traditional bluegrass vocal stylings, combined with counterpoint and fugue. The individual lines are not difficult; putting the piece together and tuning it create the challenge. 

Abolition of Slavery, Bob Chilcott. SSATB and piano, moderate difficulty. This beautiful piece was written to commemorate the abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom, but its message is equally valid in the United States. It is scored for SSATB choir and is the second movement from Five Days That Changed the World.The second statement includes a soprano I part that is basically a descant. Therefore, in addition to being sung exactly as written, this piece can be sung effectively by a high school mixed with a treble choir in unison on the descant, a high school mixed and elementary choir in unison, or community SATB youth and children’s choirs.

Reprinted from ChorTeach with permission of ACDA.


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