My Repertoire "Formula" For 6th Grade 

I know it’s already 2019, but I still have some great leftovers from 2018 that I want to share with you. Like, my 6th graders singing at their very first middle school chorus performance!

I mean, come on. Just look at how cute they are!

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this in a previous post or not, but my 6th grade students share concerts with 6th grade band, and NOT the rest of the choral program. We had to split things up a few years ago because we were getting really close to violating fire code in our auditorium with all of the 220-250 students plus their friends, family, and members of the community.

 

Check out their performance here, and keep on reading for all the details about the general formula that works for me when planning out repertoire for my 6th grade beginners.

The Formula

While I don't always stick to these rules hard and fast, keeping them in mind generally helps me insure that I'm covering all of the bases I want to cover with my beginners. You can cover multiple rules in one piece, just depending on what works best for you and your students in the moment. Before I go more in depth, let's start with the actual concert repertoire (and some bullet points about why I chose each)  that my 6th graders performed in the video above. That way, you can see how the pieces I chose reflect back on the formula itself:

 

Kyrie Eleison arr. Michael Scott

  • unison

  • foreign language (Greek)

  • slower tempo, great for tone building and focus on pure vowels

  • easy to learn, so students experience quick success.

Al Tambor arr. Victor C. Johnson

  • 2-parts, with some partner song-like sections, and some homophony

  • foreign language (Spanish)

  • up-tempo, and fun!

Something Told the Wild Geese arr. Sherri Porterfield

  • 2-part, with some sections partnering, and some in homophony

  • poetic text, text painting

  • lots of great opportunities to work on beginning and ending consonants

  • tone builder

Yonder Come Day arr. Judith Cook Tucker 

  • moves from unison to 3 parts, but easily accessible since all parts are independent melodies. Great for teaching beginning ears part independence.

  • spiritual, with a slightly different vocal technique than the other pieces.

  • body movement

  • mix of speaking/singing

OK, here is my actual formula (drum roll, please):

  • 3-4 pieces

  • At least one piece in unison.

  • At least one piece in a foreign language

  • At least one piece that gives them experience singing in 2-part (stick with easier pieces that use partner melodies, rounds, or only use 2 part splits in sections...not the entire song. Beware homophony with 6th graders, and only use it sparingly...it is really hard for them to hear and hold together at first!)

  • Mix of styles and tempos

  • At least one piece should be a "tone builder," meaning you can really focus on creating solid, beautiful tone

 

 Also, don't forget to give your students opportunities to perform solos!

 

Moving forward into the new semester, I generally stick to a similar format with sixth grade classes. I do this because I really want to reinforce the basics of solid vocal technique, and music literacy before moving on. Taking the time to do this the first year really allows me to speed things up when they return in 7th and 8th grade.

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