Elementary Music Concerts/Informances

imagesIt is that time of year again when my students perform their annual holiday concert. Many music educators of elementary general music are preparing for their annual concerts or classroom informances which can include such themes as holidays, seasons, a theme solely tied to the current curriculum, or a combination of any of the above.

I always like to write a post at this time of year sharing what I chose for my students to sing on their concert because as music educators, we are always looking for new music and ideas. Here is my program for grades K-3. I should note that it was shortened this year due to the time we lost because of Superstorm Sandy.

Theme: Rhythm of the Season

1. Opener: “The Rhythm of the Season” by Teresa Jennings – K-3
     This song is a part of her Musical Revue, “A Holiday of Music,” which can be found in her Music K-8 Series, version 21/2. This song is very upbeat, almost having the sound of “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. My students love this song and it is very easy for my youngest of students to learn. If you perform the entire revue, you can hear the song, “A Holiday of Music,” within “The Rhythm of the Season.”
 
2. “Dreidl, Spin!” by Paul Jennings – Grades 2&3, Grade 3 recorders
     As you can tell, I pick a lot of music from the Music K-8 series because my students like the music, it is written well for young voices, it has wonderful accompaniment tracks, and the series provides you with numerous ways to present the music from teaching it to giving you lyric/lead sheets within the series.
Dreidl, Spin! is based on S’vivon. The recorder decant part has three notes, B, A and G. My third graders are rising to the challenge when performing this descant on recorder and I am so proud of them. Each time, they perform it better than before and the smiles on their faces from the success they feel is priceless. My original thought was to have one of my fourth grade saxophonists play the melody when the third grade plays the recorder descant (the melody is played by a trumpet on the recording). This would mean that I would transpose the recorders down one step (using Finale), rearrange the descant to have the notes G and A (no B), and transpose the accompaniment down a step (using Audacity), so that the saxophone would be playing in a decent key. However, since I had to reduce the concert this year, I shelved this idea.
 
3. “Christmas Jubilation” by Mike Wilson – Grades 2&3, small solo group
 Another song from Music K-8. My students love this song. It is an upbeat gospel piece that, to me, is a little bit more sacred than secular, which I like. (Usually, I include a completely sacred Christmas carol, which is supported.) The accompaniment track is wonderful and gets the students moving and singing. The solos are based on the pitches sol, la and do’, which is nice as it fits into an elementary general music curriculum.
4. “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano, arr by Roger Emerson, John Jacobson & John Higgins –  Grades K&1
This comes from the revue, “December in Our Town.”  Years ago, my students performed the title track and liked the song a lot. “Feliz Navidad” is a great arrangement that can be performed as a part of the revue or on its own. It mixes the Spanish and English sections nicely, not making the song too long. In the middle, the piano part has “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” where the students can dance. We are going to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” while a small group of first graders perform a conga line. The key in this particular arrangement is high for younger voices and should be considered that transposing it down might be worthwhile.
 
5. “Siyahamba” – Traditional, arr. By Donald Moore, Grades K-3
I have listened to and performed many arrangements of this song and this is my favorite arrangement. When I was in graduate school, I took a sequencing course and sequenced an accompaniment track to this song that included marimba, drums, cabasa, triangle, and bass guitar, that is still one of my all time favorite sequences. To show how long ago that was, I used Freestyle to sequence it! My students adore this song. They love to move and sing to this song. This version’s lyrics are in Zulu and even my youngest students can sing the words well. I do inform them of the translation of the song, “We are marching in the light of God,” however, we are singing this version only in Zulu.
After grades K-3 and are finished, they will leave and grades 4-7 will come up to the stage to perform their pieces. At the very end of the concert, we sing “Christmas is a Feeling” by Natalie Sleeth. We have sung this song at the end of our holiday concerts for the past 25+ years. Alumni and parents will sing along. It is a sweet and beautiful song.
What will you be singing on your upcoming elementary concert/informance?
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award and the 2016 NJMEA Master Music Teacher Award. TI:ME . You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com
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