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Veterans Day

We hold annual Veterans Day celebrations in our school (as I'm sure many of you do). This year, I knew I wanted to feature Dude Choir, and I initially planned on having only them perform. But then I fell head over heels for I Choose Love, arr. Mark A. Miller.

The arrangement for this piece is only available as SATB, which meant that I needed to pull in some of my girls to perform the piece, too. I decided to let my 8th grade girls combine with Dude Choir.

Why this is a great piece:

  1. It’s a quick learn, because the vast majority of it is unison. There are only  a few measures where it’s actually an SATB split.

  2. Solo features. I let my all-state students perform the solos, because they were already familiar with them.

  3. The text is beautiful, and meaningful to not only myself, but my students. I Choose Love was written to commemorate the victims of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, SC. (Which is coincidentally a few hours away). We. are. Hooked.

  4. Lots of opportunities to teach expression, work dynamics, etc.

I realize this isn’t necessarily what you’d typically associate with Veterans Day. While the standard trope is typically lies within the patriotic realm, I like to select something I feel is meaningful, poignant, or uplifting. Don’t worry, our band and orchestra programs typically take care of the patriotic side of things, so I think my repertoire choices generally provide a nice change in programming.


I decided to try a slightly different staging this year. Students split into four groups (two at the back of the auditorium on either side, and two up front hidden in the handicapped ramps). Soloists started out alone, and the rest of the group slowly filed out onto the risers. It was a pretty cool effect!

Other Pieces I've Done For Veterans Day (Plus One I'd Program In The Future)

  • Trouble, Fly  2-part arr. Patricia McKernon Runkle

  • Give Us Hope SSA/SATB Jim Papoulis

  • Shenandoah (any version, really. I used a version I already had in my music library that a prior director ordered)

  • Blades of Grass, and Pure White Stones SAB  arr. Keith Christopher

  • The Star Spangled Banner (I used an SATB arrangement off of cpdl for free! There are also some decent arrangements out there from other composers)

  • Homeland, SSA arr.  Z. Randall Stroope (This was a big undertaking for my girls at the time…we bit off more than we could chew, but I totally think my groups could do it now. You could also find a simplified version of the hymn used in this piece.)

Plus one I've been thinking about programming:

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