How to Find Easy Songs for Elementary Bands

Here’s how to find easy songs for your elementary school band, so that next year is your most successful year yet.

Congratulations! It’s June and you made it through another school year. Anxiety started building in May for most teachers and their students but aah, what a relief it is. How DID you make it through your final elementary band or string concert?

Anyway, savor the moment and shut down for the rest of the month except for some reflection of what transpired in the year since last September.

Did you find yourself doing the things you did the previous five years? I was personally offended when I was asked…
“Did I teach 30 years or did I teach one year 30 times?” Well let’s face it, you do have curriculums you have to follow, and school books older than 30 you had no choice but to use. And if you didn’t follow those guidelines you were labeled a maverick, a rebel, or worse.

Choose your title for me…. I was “OR WORSE” in certain circles and I was proud of it. My product in the spring of each year spoke for itself.

So how did this past school year go for you?

First, after an instrumental demo, you passed out a form stating that each student must obtain an instrument of choice and a corresponding band method with an accompaniment CD that is gibberish to a beginner musician. #Boring
Next after a month and a half came Halloween, there was not much to work with in the method book.
Another six weeks and Thanksgiving arrived and again there was not much to work with in your method books.
Oh my gosh, Channuka and Christmas. Still limited and incomplete songs in the method books.

I could go on and on but you see where I’m going. Actually I was in the same boat barely staying afloat. After my first year of teaching was when I went rogue.

Back 40 years ago (stone age of technology), I researched dozens of songs for the whole school year. For each song I chose the best concert key for elementary band, then wrote it by hand on carbon masters for C Bb, and Eb instruments plus bass clef trombone. Next I used a “memeograph machine” with a hand crank. The ether smell was brutal.

After retiring from school teaching, I used modern technology and desktop publishing to produce “The Yankee Collection”. Check it out! It’s a compilation of easy to read and easy to play fun songs that will enable you to add your band to your school’s interdisciplinary units. Whoa, I’ll bet they would never see that coming. (Grand slam for Mr. or Ms. Maverick! Though I wonder how many administrators would appreciate your efforts.)

Just choose the appropriate songs for just about every activity from the students’ first lesson to Memorial Day. Here’s your chance to be creative. Each song is complete and playable for most students. You can edit these melodies subject to your band’s capabilities. Give the students the opportunity to perform their first solos (4 or 8 measures maybe). You can open up a song. (You know what I mean). Anyway, if the parents and teachers recognize the songs, they’ll call you a miracle worker.

If you do nothing else this summer, review “The Yankee Collection”. You won’t be sorry. It will be time well spent. It’s available as an ebook on Amazon as well. Have a great summer. You deserve it!

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