Posts Tagged 'sheet music'

12 of the Best New School Choir Arrangements from Shawnee Press

This blog comes courtesy of the Director of Educational Choral Publications for Shawnee Press, Greg Gilpin

Assess! Inspire! Ignite!

As the new school year begins, many teachers are faced with new challenges created by the pandemic as well as ever-changing educational requirements for young people. Here are a few examples:

– You older and experienced singers are not choosing music their junior or senior year because they are taking college courses.

– Your freshman singers missed out on two years of middle school/junior high choir due to the pandemic or lack of a program in your school.

– Your music students have to choose between instrumental and choral. Those that have purchased instruments are most likely to choose band/orchestra. You may have many singers that don’t read music well or at all.

– Because of the pandemic, you find yourself “rebuilding” interest and excitement in your program. Thus, your numbers are low and your choral ensembles are smaller.

Teaching Community and Acceptance!

We Are All the Stars

Greg Gilpin

SATB | SAB | 2-Part | Choir Audio

A reflective and poignant text of how many create one; suitable for all ages. Full harmonic writing with dynamic contrast creates a beautiful interpretation of text. An independent yet supportive piano accompaniment enhances the setting.

Excellent Introduction to Masterworks!

Gloria (from Lord Nelson Mass)

Franz Joseph Haydn (arr. Russell Robinson)

3-Part Mixed 

Accessible voice parts shine in with this Latin text of the Haydn “Gloria.” It’s suitable for concert, contest or festival use with optional solo opportunities. History included on Lord Nelson and Napoleon for additional teaching purposes.

Add Humor and Movement to Your Program!

Earworm

Mark Burrows

2-Part | Choir Audio

The humorous text is relatable to musicians of all ages. Interesting and diverse vocal writing for both parts is supported by a solid piano accompaniment. The creative vocal stack includes an optional descant.

Full of Fun Using Classroom Instruments!

I Want It That Way

Backstreet Boys (arr. Nathan Howe)

SATB | SAB | TTBB | 2-Part 

In 2012, Jimmy Fallon started a recurring segment on “The Tonight Show” in which The Roots use classroom instruments to play pop songs with celebrity guests. These skilled musicians pull off engaging performances using instruments many people don’t take seriously beyond the elementary music room. Nathan Howe has continued his musical genius in a cappella writing with this pop tune sung a cappella with classroom percussion. It’s amazing and fun and suitable for all ages with the variety of voicings available.

Rhythm Teaching for the Holidays!

Hear the Sleigh Bells Ring!

Greg Gilpin

3-Part Treble | 3-Part Mixed | Choir Audio

This original up-tempo holiday selection in a minor key uses independent vocal lines imitating bells then moving into a rhythmic homophonic chorus. Optional descant and sleigh bells add to the joyful lyric of a holiday sleigh ride.

Connecting Our Cultures

Light a Candle On This Silent Night

Glenda E. Franklin

2-Part | 3-Part Mixed | Choir Audio

Poignant message of hope and peace with snippets of “Silent Night” throughout. Limited vocal ranges and simple vocal textures create an ethereal quality; excellent for teaching tone, diction, dynamics, balance and blend.

Great for Beginning A Cappella Ensembles!

Hurry Now to Bethlehem

Ruth Morris Gray

SATB | 3-Part Mixed

A cappella singing is set with optional percussion telling the story of the birth in Bethlehem and creating an exciting Christmas or holiday performance. Optional solos are sprinkled about creating call and answer style moments. The use of multi-meter and repetition make it easy and fun to learn creating an impressive performance.

Superb Patriotic Selection for A Cappella Choirs

God Bless America

Irving Berlin (arr. Mark Hayes)

SATB | SSAB | SSAA | TTBB | Choir Audio

Mark Hayes is one of our finest arrangers and now he has used his expertise in vocal arranging on this Irving Berlin treasure from the American Song Book. A cappella voices richly present the well-known lyric, capturing its emotional patriotism. Beautiful and dynamic musical interpretation weaves throughout the piece, building to a glorious final “home sweet home.”

Beautiful Choice for Multicultural Learning

Akatonbo (Red Dragonfly)

Traditional Japanese Folksong (arr. Greg Gilpin)

2-Part | Choir Audio

The simple text of this famous Japanese children’s song is paired with a beautiful English translation depicting a red dragonfly seen at sunset. The original melody melds with the original partner-song creating gentle vocal lines above a simple and supportive piano accompaniment. 2-part writing that is simply exquisite and the choral includes rehearsal suggestions for added teaching and learning.

Easily Add Sparkle to Your Concert!

Happy Holidays to You!

Mary Lynn Lightfoot

SAB | 2-Part | Choir Audio

Mary Lynn Lightfoot has given us a wonderful concert opener or closer with a message of holiday cheer and a wish that “the joys of the season last the whole year through!” Designed for young voices, the bright and festive original music can be learned quickly with the familiar notes and text of “Deck the Hall” and “Jingle Bells” sprinkled throughout. A sparkling selection for your holiday concert.

Rhythmic Energy!

Little David, Play!

Traditional Spiritual (arr. Brad Croushorn)

SATB | SAB | Choir Audio

Terrific concert, contest or festival piece filled with kinetic musical energy that’s easy to teach and learn with musical respect for the traditional spiritual. The independent part-singing is confidence building, too.

Top Seller with New Voicings!

The Holiday Tango!

Greg Gilpin

SATB | SAB | SSA | TTB | 2-Part | Choir Audio

“The sleigh bells jingle, the shoppers mingle, I get a tingle from watching such a show!” This holiday novelty will be the hit of your concert! The tango-style music set with smart and fun lyrics will create a standout selection for your program. Add some costumes and movement for a real showstopper!

8 Tips On Recruiting For Your Music Program

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many music institutions were closed. The health commission prohibited many choirs and musicians from performing. Due to health concerns, many parents opted not to enroll their kids in music classes but instead made them attend regular academic classes. One of the noticeable challenges that music teachers faced was recruiting and retaining students.

Thankfully, that’s over. Music educators can now rebuild themselves and create an impact on the students. If you’re an educator yourself, make acute recruitment and retention of students your number one priority. Here are tips to get you started.

1. Introduce Them to Music Materials

Students cannot sign up for your program by themselves or become convinced by the announcements you send to their parents/guardians. You have to expose them to your band, explain the activities, and how they can be successful through your brand.

Host an open house for your classroom. Have current students also attend to meet potential new students and have instruments and music out for potential students to check out.

You can also find opportunities to recruit outside the classroom! Volunteer your current group to perform at community events or have your group travel to younger schools that could feed intro your school to expose them to your program at a younger age.

2. Familiarize Your Students with the Instruments

You must familiarize your students with the instruments, you know music without instruments in nothing. It will take a while to familiarize them with everything, but they’ll appreciate your effort when they get used to them. Once your students know how each tool works, your recruitment program will run smoothly.

3. Make them Fill out Interest Forms

During your first meeting, hand them interest forms. The forms should have space bars for their email address, phone number, the school they attend, and the instruments they would love to play. Doing so will help you get accurate information about your students. This is an essential recruitment stage that will let you know your students.

4. Engage Your Older Students

One of the best ways to hook up your students with music is by giving them a chance to interact with your older students. You can call some of your best students and allow them to teach your young music students some basics. Your juniors will be more comfortable if they interact with senior learners and this will increase retention.

5. Give Them Practical Assignments

After filling out the forms, you should probably know what type of instrument every student love. Take them through different instrumental lessons separately. After every class, make them do some practical presentation of what they have learned. Doing this will help you know how each student is progressing, giving you enough time to figure out what’s next for them.

6. Do Some Follow-Up Activities

To successfully retain your students, you must follow up on their class programs and the assignments you give them. Have a clear understanding of what each student needs. Contact their parents and know how they progress with their projects. Knowing how your music students go will help you establish a good relationship giving you a chance to get new students.

7. Be An Understanding Music Teacher

During your music recruitment program, you will have different students. The ones who are already familiar with the music and those who are new to music. As a music educator, you must understand the students’ two categories. Understanding them will help you provide a quality learning experience.

8. Make It Fun

As a music teacher, you have to be fun around your students. Positively introduce yourself to make them feel comfortable while they are around you. Allow them to participate in the class programs to engage them.

Keep your music classes short and practical so they’re more enjoyable while systematically introducing different musical themes. Make sure you have a positive interaction with your students so they open up and learn better.

Make Your Program Happen

While there might have been some complications in your music program during the last few years, now is the time to make it better and rebuild what you have started. Visit Sheet Music Plus and get the best music selection that can get you in a good mood as you prepare to start teaching music.

Your Intro to Pop A Cappella

Hint: It might just be more approachable than you think!

Looking for new ways to get students to join choir and keep them coming back for more? 

From Pentatonix to Pitch Perfect, they’ve already fallen in love with pop a cappella. 

Here’s Rob Dietz to help you teach them to sing it.

Rob, a cappella teacher/performer/producer with Glee, Sing-Off and America’s Got Talent credits to his name, has put together A Cappella 101, a guide to help you teach students of all levels how to sing the music they love.

Rob also picked out a few songs to help your students apply what they’re learning. This list includes the showstoppers your advanced students are craving and also a strong set to engage those earlier in their journey and help them find success.

A Cappella 101 by Rob Dietz

In A Cappella 101, Rob Dietz expertly describes the nuts, bolts and artistry of creating contemporary a cappella music. Covering everything from pop vocal tone and vocal drumming to movement, arranging and recording, this book and the accompanying online videos are a “how-to” for newbies and seasoned experts alike.

Rob himself introduces the book in this video:

Approachable Pop A Cappella

Viva La Vida

By: Coldplay
Arranged by: Rob Dietz
SAT + Solo and Vocal Percussion

A great starting piece, no basses required! The tenor line is good for both changed and unchanged voices, and the vocal percussion is simple and easy to execute for a beginner.

The Way I Am

By: Ingrid Michaelson
Arranged By: MaryAnne Muglia
SSA

This arrangement features a simple, repeating bass line that’s a great way for altos to get familiar with holding down the bass part of an a cappella arrangement (and it’s not too low!). Lots of simple, well voiced, yet unexpected harmonies in this chart.

Dance Monkey

By: Tones and I
Arranged By: Bryan Sharpe
SAB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

This one is a really good introduction to slightly more complex bass/vocal percussion. The drums are simple, and notated to make them a little easier to pick up for a beginner. The bass sits in a very achievable register for younger voices, and includes some more advanced rhythms without being overwhelming.

When The Party’s Over

By: Billie Eilish
Arranged By: Rob Dietz
SAAB + Solo

Great for groups who want to try some easy, close harmony pop! The ranges are all fairly limited, and parts are mostly stepwise or easy interval jumps. The bass part sits in an easy register for young voices.

Kings and Queens

By: Ava Max
Arranged By: BK Riha
SATB + Vocal Percussion

Lots of block chord singing makes this chart powerful without needing to execute too many dense background textures. The bass and VP are very authentic, but also very easy to pick up quickly (and the VP is notated).

Up for a Bit of a Challenge?

Light In The Hallway
By: Pentatonix
Arranged By: Jacob Narverud
SATBB

Perfect for choirs who want to experiment with a pop sound, as well as beginning a cappella groups who want to do some beautiful close harmony singing. Lots of featured moments for lower voices, so good baris are a plus!

Stitches

By: Shawn Mendes
Arranged By: BK Riha
SATB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

This arrangement is a good introdution to trio-background texture, and features some simple, interwoven lines that will provide a small challenge with a big payoff. Vocal percussion is simple and notated.

Don’t Start Now

By: Dua Lipa
Arranged By: Deke Sharon
SATB + Vocal Percussion

A good step up for groups who want something accessible, but a little more challenging. Some parts are rhythmically more complicated, but repeated, so once you’ve got it, you’ve got it! The lead is shared across all parts, so doesn’t require a soloist.

If I Die Young

By: The Band Perry
Arranged By: Ben Bram
SATB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

A little more ambitious in terms of range and complexity of vocal percussion, but still a very accessible arrangement for a beginner or advanced beginner group. The bridge is a good introduction to singing a bell tone texture.

Aspirational Pop A Cappella

I Need Your Love

By: Ellie Goulding
Arranged By: Ben Bram
SATB div + Solo and Vocal Percussion

For advanced-beginner groups looking for a challenge. More advanced syncopation, bell tone textures, divisi, and intermediate vocal percussion make this arrangement great for leveling up your group.

Shut Up And Dance

By: Walk The Moon
Arranged By: Tom Anderson
SSATTB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

If your group is ready to move to more intermediate contemporary a cappella repertoire, this is a great place to start! Lots of pop syncopations in all parts will force you to find the groove, but a fairly straightforward, four-on-the-floor vocal percussion line will help tie it all together.

Somewhere Only We Know

By: Keane
Arranged By: Katherine Bodor
SSAATBB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

A great introduction to multi-trio, layered harmony. This arrangement allows a group to work on extended harmony stacking without too many intricate rhythms or complicated vocal percussion.

I Want You Back

By: The Jackson 5
Arranged By: Rob Dietz
SSATBB div + Solo and Vocal Percussion

Ready to step it up? This arrangement is a good challenge for a true intermediate group that’s ready to tackle rhythm, stacked harmony, agile bass, and vocal percussion all at once!

About Rob Dietz

Rob Dietz is a multiple CARA winning producer who has been arranging, performing, and teaching contemporary a cappella music for over twenty years. Rob is best known for his work as an arranger and group coach for NBC’s The Sing-Off. Through his work on the show, Rob has collaborated with some of the top talent in the vocal music world, including Pentatonix, Peter Hollens, and Voiceplay. His arrangements have been showcased on several TV shows, including America’s Got Talent (NBC), To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You (Netflix), and Pitch Slapped (Lifetime). As a performer he is an award-winning vocal percussionist, and his distinctive sound has been featured on FOX’s Glee and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Rob has a deep passion for a cappella education, and is a founding co-director of A Cappella Academy (along with Ben Bram and Avi Kaplan). In addition to his work with Academy, Rob is also the director of Legacy: an award-winning auditioned, community youth a cappella group. Rob is the author of A Cappella 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Contemporary A Cappella Singing. Alongside his work in contemporary a cappella music, Rob is also an avid choral composer – his pieces are performed by choirs from all over the world. Learn more at www.robdietzmusic.com. Twitter and Instagram: @rdietz55.

Rebuild & Renew!

By Patti Drennan

The musical world more or less came to a screeching halt in March 2020. Unsure of the effects a deadly Coronavirus could bring, most churches and businesses shuttered their doors until medical officials could analyze the seriousness and duration of this pandemic. For many months, choirs quit singing in worship and large performances then later members began wearing singers’ mask as they sang, though in much smaller groups. As the median age of our choir members often ranges above age sixty, and with no vaccinations then available, many singers stayed in the safety of their homes, especially if they were immuno-compromised. Creative technology later began to be devised to allow for online worship, even adding music. It was a testimony that music cannot be silenced!

            Even as most choirs have returned to their vital role in worship, some singers are hesitant to resume singing. Health, aging voices, and the convenience of online worship are explanations for their absence. In addition, singers within the congregation may have the gifts to offer in worship but other duties take higher priority than choir membership.

            With the writing of this book, Rebuild and Renew: A 12-Step Program to Fire Up Your Choir, I hope to offer affirmation and encouragement, as well as practical tools a director can select for use in his or her rehearsal and worship service.  Whether it is working to bring back singers to the choral “fold” or acquiring new members, it is part of our ministry work to enliven music and the arts in our church, schools, and community. Rebuild & Renew offers tips, tools, and ideas on how to do just that. 

            I contacted several choral directors and music ministers to ascertain the scope of impact the virus had on their churches and particularly their music ministry. I received quite a bit of affirmation that they, too, have struggled to bring their choirs back to pre-pandemic level of attendance and commitment. Within this book I incorporated their ideas and tips to renew and revive their choirs, plus reach others who had previously not been involved. It is my hope that making directors aware of the fact that their own church is not on an isolated island. Many churches nationwide are struggling with a new image of worship that causes us to brainstorm new and innovative ways to make music and encourage our fellowship of believers.

            As a retired high school choral director and a current church music director, I have brought to light resources and ideas that will help not only the seasoned music minister, but the person new to choral directing. Some you may have used before; others you have not.  This book is designed for novice and seasoned directors alike…to be enlightening, affirming, and inspiring. 

Chapters include The Choir as Community; The Productive Rehearsal; Recruit, Rebuild and “Youth-anize”, and much moreplus choir devotionals, reproducible responsive readings, and suggested easy anthem ideas.

The time is now to truly “rebuild and renew” our church choirs and entire music programs in this new era!  Excellence and excitement always inspire people to get on board.  When that happens, ordinary people can truly do extraordinary things. 

Patti Drennan is a church music director, retired music educator, and active composer/arranger with hundreds of anthems published with all major publishers (and sales of over two million copies).  Patti resides in Oklahoma.

© Copyright 2022 Jubilate Music Group.  All Rights Reserved.

3 Selections To Get Your Choir Back Into The School Year

By Danielle Larrick

As we transition into the Back to School season, many of us are shifting our focus and starting to consider repertoire for the upcoming year. 

While the final choices will come down to you, this is a great way to engage your musicians and get their opinion on the repertoire you’re considering for the upcoming year. Back to School season is the perfect opportunity to have your musicians listen, evaluate, and select their top pics from a list of repertoire. This can take place during the first weeks of school, or even in a Back to School newsletter to musicians!

I did just this with my own singers at the end of the school year. Here were some of their top picks!

Selection 1 – “Winter Wolf” 

This haunting piece in 3/4 offers some wonderful teaching moments especially in terms of part indepence and entrances. The ranges cater to adolescent voices. The text is rich and offers great practice in diction. Overall, it’s a great juxtaposition to the traditional winter repertoire. 

Selection 2 – “Storm”

You can’t go wrong with body percussion! I love it and so do my singers. The challenging rhythms and upbeat tempo are a perfect fit for the feel of the piece. 

Selection 3 – “Stars I Shall FInd”

The long phrases of this piece are simply stunning. The text is a beautiful opportunity to work on vowel shape. It offers much room for expression and features some dissonant harmonies that resolve in a stunning way.

For over a decade, Danielle has served as a musician-educator in both urban and suburban settings.  She believes in the value of middle school music as a means of identity, expression, and connection. She focuses on designing practical, innovative, and engaging music curricula for middle school students. Motivated by the ever-changing trends in education, Danielle continues to write, present, and create. She is the author of  “Middle School General Music: A Guide to Navigating the Unknown” (F-flat Books), as well as other resources designed for middle school general music and choir. Along with Jessica Grant, she is the co-founder of The Confident Music Educator. She currently resides in Lancaster, PA with her husband, son, and Boston Terrier. 

Instagram: musicalmiddles

E-mail: musicalmiddles@gmail.com

Website: https://theconfidentmusiceducator.podia.com/

Instagram: theconfidentmusiceducator

Come Back Bigger and Better!

The Top 5 Reasons to Do a Christmas Cantata This Year

By Mark Cabaniss

There’s no question the pandemic changed church choirs.  At least for now.  Maybe forever?  Well, perhaps that’s up to you and us all.  This blog post makes a case to find a way to do a cantata (or musical) this year.  Even if your performing forces aren’t back up to pre-pandemic levels yet.

1. The Event Factor. Since cantatas aren’t performed on a regular basis, whenever they are performed, they’re an event. And events generally bring out more people to see them than a regular worship service (if they’re promoted correctly). They can build excitement and a real positive “buzz” in a church and community.  And nothing says “We’re back!” more than a cantata.

2. Growth. Cantatas offer the opportunity for choirs (and individuals) to grow in a number of ways: musically, numerically, and spiritually. They occasionally attract non-choir members who want to “try out” the choir on a short-term basis (and sometimes, those people become regular choir members). 

3. Bonding. An event tends to “rally” a choir and focus its rehearsals for the period leading up to the presentation. If there are a few extra (“bonus” as I call them) rehearsals to pull the work together, those offer an opportunity for greater bonding between director and choir and among choir members. If there’s a church-wide fellowship or reception following the presentation those events can promote even more bonding and unity among the choir and entire church. 

4. Attract more men and younger members. There’s no question that, in general, many choirs today are lacking in men and younger members. Cantatas often require men to participate in speaking roles (Jesus, the disciples) and with a little creative and gentle arm-twisting, the resourceful director can use a musical to recruit new men to the choir. 

5. Memories. Ask any church or choir member what anthem they sang on a particular Sunday a year ago and they’re likely to scratch their head and draw a blank. But ask them what musical they did when they were in high school, college, or last year in the adult choir and they’ll likely rattle off the title immediately. I’m not saying the weekly anthem isn’t the choir’s bread and butter, but this is further evidence cantatas are worth it. 

Not enough people in your choir to pull one off?  Join forces with a neighboring church(es).  Suddenly, your group has doubled in size. The camaraderie that is developed (and opportunity to perform the work not once by twice at each participating church) is priceless, and unforgettable.  Jubilate Music Group has several easy cantatas that are perfect for smaller and “coming back” choirs, such as There’s a Song in the Air and How Great Our Joy! both by Stan Pethel.  Also, The Gift by Lloyd Larson.

Bottom line: Cantatas – when carefully chosen, prepared, and performed – can create a lasting (and sometimes life-changing) impact on those who experience them.  

Mark Cabaniss is a music publisher, producer, writer, and educator. He is President/CEO of Jubilate Music Group, based in Nashville, Tennessee. www.markcabaniss.com

How To Make Your Choir Inclusive for Trans, GNC and Queer Singers

by Caite Debevec

I failed my first transgender student.

I was in grad school and had never had a trans singer in my choir before. I was rooted in what I knew regarding voice types. I was sure that my priority would be vocal health above all else and I was determined to give the singer the best choral experience I could.

Did you catch my mistake?

Rather than centering my student in their experience, it was all about me. What could I give them? How could I improve their voice? Did I know warmups and exercises to address all their vocal struggles?

In the years since, I have curated a list of reminders for myself and other choral directors who strive to create safe spaces for transgender (trans), gender non-conforming (GNC), and queer singers.

First and foremost: It’s not about you.

This is something I tell myself before every rehearsal. While I may have the degrees and the knowledge, the tricks and tips, my primary responsibility is to serve my singers in the way they need me. This doesn’t mean I bend over backward to acquiesce their every request, but my goals for singers are secondary to the goals and aspirations they have for themselves. Allow your singer to be the captain of their choral experience.

Our students don’t owe us their story.

Your trans, GNC, and queer singers have no obligation to tell you anything about themselves. Accept the information that they provide willingly, and only ask questions if they create the space for you to do so. If they don’t share, you don’t need to know.

Trans and GNC singers reserve the right to enter a choral classroom without divulging their complete medical history.

Singers determine the quality of their own musical experiences.

Choral directors often focus on vocal health, but our concept of health should encompass a singer’s physical, mental, and social well-being.

You may have a transmasculine person who wants to sing in the tenor section, and they can only hit half the notes. Is there a chance they could hurt their vocal mechanism? Yes. Is forcing them to sit in the alto section – which is often predominantly singers who identify as female – the solution? No.

A singer’s mental and social well-being are just as important. While that trans singer may only be able to sing half of the notes, to them it may be the quality musical experience that they are looking for.

And always remember: Every singer’s quality experience will look different. One transfeminine person may want to sing alto, while another wants to sing bass. I find the best way of handling this is to say, “Feel free to join whichever section you feel most comfortable in, switch sections at any time, and let me know if you’d like some support!” This gives singers the opportunity to ask for guidance, but the freedom to explore their voices by themselves.

Accommodations for one singer often benefit the entire ensemble.

A few accommodations that have secret benefits:

  1. A good portion of my alto section is trans women who are singing the alto part an octave lower than written. Not only does that expand the repertoire I can program, but our intonation is greatly influenced by the bolstered low notes.
  2. Exercises that are specifically designed for trans and GNC voices are great warmups for the entire ensemble.
  3. When one section is learning their notes, have the entire ensemble sing along in octaves. Members who are singing an octave higher or lower than written can learn their notes without feeling like they are exposed. This also builds musicianship skills for the ensemble.

Most importantly: Trans and GNC singers are singers.

For many of my singers, their transness is a major part of their identity, but it isn’t the reason they joined my ensemble. While we make accommodations for our trans, GNC, and queer singers, be aware of “othering” them, or unconsciously setting them apart from your cis/het singers. Remember: We are all singers who want a community that makes music together.

For continued reading regarding transgender, gender non-conforming, and queer choral experiences, I recommend The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices by Liz Jackson Hearns and Brian Kremer, and A Queerly Joyful Noise: Choral Musicking for Social Justice by Jules Balèn.

If you would like further reading on vocal health, HRT, and the trans/GNC singing experience, I recommend One Weird Trick: A Users Guide to Transgender Voice by Liz Jackson Hearns, and Voice and Communication Therapy for the Transgender/Gender Diverse Client by Richard K. Adler, Sandy Hirsch, and Jack Pickering.

Caite Debevec is a conductor, composer and educator living and working in Baltimore City. She is currently the music director for the Baltimore Men’s Chorus, the founding music director of the Baltimore Women’s Chorale, Manager of Early Childhood Education at the Maryland Science Center, and an independent voice instructor working with trans, non-binary, and GNC singers. www.caitedebevec.com IG: @baltimoremenschorus@bmorewomen

My 9+ Favorite Elvis Songs From Each Era

By: Bruce Dierbeck – Social Media Manager

Thanks to the new “Elvis” biopic, the world has caught Elvis Presley fever all over again (not to be confused with his cover of “Fever” from the 1973 Aloha From Hawaii special).

Elvis’ music career can really be broken down by 3 distinct eras. There’s the early music, which launched Elvis — if not all of rock and roll — into the stratosphere. There’s his movie music that first kept, but then hurt, his relevance throughout the 60s. And lastly, there are the live performances that kept arenas packed until Elvis left the building one final time in August of 1977.

These are a few of my favorites from each of the Elvis eras, from the biggest hits to the deepest cuts. And while Elvis never performed encores, as a “thank you, thank you very much” I have a bonus for those who read to the end.

EARLY ELVIS

“Hound Dog”

Best spun on a 45, preferably with your dog of choice nearby.

“All Shook Up”

One of our favorites from Elvis’ early years, but we thought we’d shake it up here with a fast-paced rendition from the Comeback Special.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight”

Such a sad, beautiful song. But have you ever heard the “Laughing Version” where Elvis falls into a laughing fit while performing this song live?

ELVIS MOVIES

“Love Me Tender”

From Elvis’ first motion picture, a tender love song we still can’t get over.

“Jailhouse Rock”

It would be a crime not to include this one.

“Mine”

A deep cut off the “Speedway” soundtrack, which is one of the seemingly five thousand movies in which Elvis played a race car driver. This was a soundtrack song that was never actually featured in the movie. Could it have been as big as “Love Me Tender” had it come out a decade earlier and featured in the film as opposed to being used as filler? We’ll never know. But it’s a favorite of, well, mine.

ELVIS LIVE!

“Suspicious Minds”

You can see why this was a perennial concert favorite in this sprawling 6-minute live rendition from the summer of 1970. Elvis puts his everything into this performance, leaving both the king and the crowd spent.

“Just Pretend”

A beautiful melancholic number that’s a little bit country, a little bit R&B, and therefore a whole lotta bit the kind of song Elvis loved to deliver during this era.

“American Trilogy”

One of the most iconic moments from the “Aloha From Hawaii” special, it also features a jaw-dropping flute-solo one doesn’t see much in rock concerts not featuring Jethro Tull.

BONUS: ELVIS COVERS

Just as Elvis inspired so many artists over the past half-century, Elvis was heavily inspired by his contemporaries and loved covering their music. Here are 3 Elvis covers that TCB in our eyes.

ELVIS x THE BEATLES: “Get Back / Little Sister

Did you know that not only did Elvis and the Beatles spend an evening jamming in his Hollywood living room one night in the late 60s, but that Elvis also covered a few Beatles tracks during his summer of 1970 Vegas shows? His covers of “Yesterday” and “Something” are beautiful, but it’s his mashup of “Get Back” with his own “Little Sister” that was ahead of its time.

ELVIS x THE BEE GEES: “Words

Yes. You read that right. Elvis covered the Bee Gees. And words can’t truly describe how amazing that is.

ELVIS x NEIL DIAMOND: “Sweet Caroline”

The entire planet knows every word to “Sweet Caroline” but very few know that Elvis covered this would-be Neil Diamond classic during the summer of 1970 in Las Vegas. Our thoughts? So good, so good!

Discover Elvis’ legendary catalog of music at sheetmusicplus.com

Bruce is part of the social media team at Sheet Music Plus and lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two golden retrievers. He’s a lover of all kinds of music from old school rap and classic country to yacht rock and power pop, as long as it has a catchy beat or can turn a creative lyric. He has an unhealthy knowledge of 1970s Elvis and can tell anything from the year a particular jumpsuit was worn to what night a live performance was from.

10 Favorite Broadway Songs Picked by Sheet Music Plus

We are so excited to watch the Tony Awards this weekend! There is nothing like a great Broadway musical number, and there have been so many over the decades. From classical Broadway hits to modern gems, we love to sing, dance, get sucked into YouTube rabbit holes, and get these tunes stuck in our heads. While it is difficult to narrow down just a few of these standout songs, we’ve collected our favorites from our Sheet Music Plus staff. 

It Takes Two

from Into the Woods

A classic from Stephen Sondheim.  

Seasons of Love

from Rent

An oldie, but a goodie that never gets old.

Wheels of a Dream

from Ragtime

A goosebump-inducing duet with Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell. 

All That Jazz

from Chicago

One of the best opening numbers ever. Chita Rivera understands the assignment.

You’ll Be Back

from Hamilton

Is it bad to admit that the king is one of our favorite characters?

Circle of Life

from The Lion King

Such a powerful opening number. It’s hard to not get chills.

Tonight

from West Side Story

Sondheim and Bernstein crafted some of the most timeless love songs when they created West Side Story.

Wait for Me

from Hadestown

Who would think that ancient Greece would mix so well with New Orleans and soul music?

Springtime for Hitler

from The Producers

“It was outrageous, offensive, and insulting, and I enjoyed every minute.”

Bring Him Home

from Les Miserables

Colm Wilkinson’s performance of this song is a masterclass.

The Music of Turning Red: Finding Cultural Harmony

By: Naoko Maruko – Head of Catalog Product Management at Sheet Music Plus

Think back to the first time you watched a movie and watched a character that made you think, “That’s me!” Remember the feeling of being seen and the excitement of being represented on the big screen? 

Well, I don’t. 

I was an Asian American girl who spoke with no Asian accent, only spoke English (and some basic French), and did no martial art. We did not exist in movies in the 80s and 90s and as such, we weren’t really thought to exist at all.

That’s why I was excited to see the movie Turning Red! It’s a movie about a flute-playing, high achieving, confident, Chinese Canadian 13-year-old girl named Meilin (Mei for short) Lee. Granted, I was a cello-playing, high achieving, less confident, Japanese American 13-year-old girl, but in an industry that has so little representation, East Asian folks tend to rally behind any East Asian character whenever they exist. It’s exciting to have any non-stereotypical visibility even when it is not direct representation.

Upon watching Turning Red for a second time, I realized how the movie’s music captures the journey of finding harmony between the many different facets of identity. For this movie, it is the struggle not only of growing up but balancing eastern and western cultural expectations along with showing respect for tradition in a modern societal construct.

In the opening self-introduction, Mei walks and talks over a new jack swing soundtrack. This sound is a quintessentially western sound (specifically Black-created music, with influences of hip hop, soul, R&B, funk, jazz, blues, etc.). On top of this is a melody played by a modern western flute, representing the western side of Mei. It’s used whenever she is at school, with her friends, or walking around in Toronto.

© Disney

This is juxtaposed with Mei’s familial traditional eastern influences. As Mei rushes home to be with her family, the western flute melody changes to a dizi (笛子), a Chinese bamboo flute. Traditional Chinese instruments and music styles come up frequently whenever Mei is with her family, not only representing the more traditional viewpoints but also her Chinese culture. Her mother, Ming, represents that more traditional and eastern viewpoint and is thusly represented by the more traditional and eastern instrument: the guzheng (古箏), a plucked Chinese string instrument. 

Mei discovers that she has a long family history of turning into a red panda whenever feeling a strong emotion, thanks to a wish made by her ancestor. When she initially transforms and is panicking, an erhu enters the soundtrack, often accompanied by synth. An erhu, a Chinese bowed string instrument, is rarely heard in mainstream music, much less with a modern synth accompaniment, so I found these two together to be an interesting play on east and west; traditional and more modern.

In fact, the traditional Chinese instruments often play alongside western musical entities in this movie. We get combinations of dizi and full orchestra. Guzheng and synth. Big band and dizi. It is a blended cohesive sound that incorporates both eastern and western instruments and various styles that foreshadows the peace that Mei will find with her various identities.

© Disney

At the climax of Turning Red, Mei walks away from her need for her mother’s approval and toward her friends at a 4*Town concert. Hijinx ensues and everyone ends up needing to open a door to the astral plane and deal with a big red panda situation. A ritual is performed where “The door will only open if we sing from our hearts”. For Mei’s grandma and aunties, that is a traditional-sounding Cantonese chant. 4*Town is singing and doing their boy band thing. Mei’s friends are beatboxing. The supporting music is a combination of full orchestra, Chinese orchestra, dizi, and synth. It’s the culmination of all of Mei’s identities so that she can emerge her true self.

There is often the perception that East Asian people living in non-Asian countries just arrived. The “perpetual foreigner” concept means that we are always seen as “other” as opposed to part of the societal “norm”. It is why I’ve been asked, “Where are you from? But where are you really from? But originally?” hundreds of times.

Turning Red is unique because Mei is not treated as an Other. The movie seamlessly has her belonging, which in turn normalizes her belonging. More importantly, she belongs without having to give up her cultural heritage and instead has her heritage celebrated. Mei and Mei’s music showcases how you do not need to choose sides; you do not need to be 100% something (eastern, western, traditional, modern, etc.) nor do you need to be 0% something else, because your true self may be a harmonious amalgamation of many influences. You do not need to fully assimilate and leave your culture behind to gain acceptance. You also do not need to fully live by the traditional values and expectations of a generation and/or culture. All these influences can instead co-exist and come together to create something special and lovely.

In the end, Turning Red is the soundtrack for the journey of finding cultural and generational harmony and finding peace in authentic identity. It’s also an opportunity to shine a spotlight and bring visibility to not only East Asian characters but East Asian people as we celebrate both what makes us unique and our belonging. 

BIO

Naoko Maruko is the Head of Catalog Product Management at Sheet Music Plus. She is also a professional cellist and has played with musicians such as Michael Bublé, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, and Disturbed. You can find her multi-track cello arrangements on www.youtube.com/onenaoko She is from Fresno, California. Originally.


About Take Note:

Thought-provoking articles by musicians for musicians, music lovers or those that want to learn more about it!

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