Where there’s smoke there’s fire…and hey, is that my middle school band room?

The morning was calm.  Too calm.  After taking one last drink of coffee, I picked up my scores, baton, and tuner and began walking towards the podium.  In just seconds part of my middle school band would descend upon our rehearsal room eager to learn and play music (or maybe it was just the sugar from the snack line at lunch).  But I never made it to the podium.  Suddenly a completely refurbished alto clarinet burst into flame (it had been rebuilt and sent to me from another district but smelled of smoke…).  It quickly consumed two chairs, my Wenger catalog (that was sad…), and the rain stick.  I realized the horror of it all – MY MIDDLE SCHOOL BAND ROOM WAS ON FIRE.

So, I never dreamed in a million years that writing a post called “My Band Room is on Fire” would get the attention that it has.  After having the summer to review that list, it has churned a significant repertoire list that as a profession of directors should be familiar. I got to thinking about it over the summer, and while thought provoking and good debate for high school directors the conversation should not stop there.  There are plenty of colleagues (myself included) who really struggle with selecting good music for the Middle School/Jr. High Level.  There are some exemplary standards out there, but I believe there to be a wealth of undiscovered gems as well.

The rules: You have time to save 10 pieces for study.  I chose 10 so we have a little more flexibility, plus it creates a little larger rep list.  Don’t be like a near-sighted colleague from my area that said he would wait for the place to burn and get the insurance money – contribute to the conversation and help the profession make progress!.  A list of songs with arranger and/or composer will suffice.  If you want to explain any of your choices, feel free to do so but it is not necessary.  I will recap it all in about a month.  Beware, the fire is burning again!

Carpathian Sketches…..Robert Jager

Suspended Animation…..Patrick J. Burns

Friends of Freedom…..Timothy Loest

Air for Band…..Frank Erickson

Canto…..W. Francis McBeth

Kentucky 1800…..Clare Grundman

Grant County Celebration…..Mark Williams

Marching Song…..Gustav Holst/arr. Moss

Salute to the Duke….arr. Michael Sweeney

The Battle Pavane…..Susato/arr.Margolis

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  1. 10 pieces I would save include:

    1. Stars and Stripes Forever- Sousa
    2. First Suite in E flat- Holst
    3. A Festival Prelude- Reed
    4. Chorale and Alleluia- Hanson
    5. Russian Christmas Music- Reed
    6. Sleigh Ride- Anderson
    7. Star Spangled Banner- arr. Stamp
    8. The Last Words of David- Thompson
    9. Hallelujah Chorus- Handel
    10. Requiem- Mozart

    Because I am now a choir director, I felt that it was appropriate to include a few choral masterworks. An interesting way to take this exercise is to state that you can take up to 15 pieces, but at least 5 of them must be either vocal and/or orchestral. I wonder what vocal and/or orchestral pieces band directors in particular would choose.

  2. Matt,
    Thanks for stopping by. Your list is a good one, though it is a little better suited for the “My Band Room Is On Fire!” post. I don’t know many middle school/junior high bands that could pull off Hanson and Reed in the same program!

  3. Oops… didn’t read the whole post… my bad!

  4. “There are plenty of colleagues (myself included) who really struggle with selecting good music for the Middle School/Jr. High Level. There are some exemplary standards out there, but I believe there to be a wealth of undiscovered gems as well.”

    Try finding some exemplary pieces for elementary band… it’s a shallow pool out there. Do you teach elementary? If you don’t, perhaps I could steal your post idea (giving you piles of credit for the idea, of course) and do an elementary fire post?

    I have to say, I am ROFLMAO that your alto clarinet caught on fire. They do make good firewood, don’t they?

  5. Linda you should definitely do that! An elementary post about literature would be a great resource. I do not teach elementary, but I would be interested in contributing to a potential list. Do you need some matches?


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