Recently, in my last blog I suggested that you start planning your elementary band program for the next school year right now. Here are song suggestions for the entire year if you use the “Yankee Collection”.
Once you have students signed up for band class and they possess their chosen instruments, obviously you will teach your students how to assemble their horns properly followed by learning three basic written notes, including fingerings. That is a lot to remember in the first class. You know, putting the reed on correctly, putting their lips on the right spot, putting their right fingers on the right keys.(Let’s face it, all they really need is the fingerings to at least recognize easy three note songs like “Hot Cross Buns” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” found on page 1).
Once they start developing finger co-ordination along with producing a decent sound, after one week add a forth note, all found in familiar songs on pages 1, 2, and 3, not exercises with silly names. Don’t focus on note values too much initially. At first kids will play songs the way they know them. Just let them have fun. A couple of weeks later you can introduce time values.
October! Hopefully by now students have a standard range of 6 notes. You will find songs to learn and have fun with like “London Bridge” and “Twinkle, Twinkle” pg 4 and others in the Beginners and More Folk Songs sections. We also have easy Halloween songs kids could perform for your school like: “Skin and Bones” pg 31 and “The Worms Crawl In” pg 32 or maybe “The Snake Charmer Song” pg 27 or others found earlier in the book.
Now comes November and “Thanksgiving”. If students add one note to their range: “middle “B” flat on clarinet and trumpet, “A” flat on flute, and “F” on the alto sax, they should be able to play “Faith of Our Fathers” pg 33, “For The Beauty of The Earth” and “For Thy Gracious Blessing” pg 34. Saxes could play “Over The River and Through The Wood”. (not a typo) Just add F# and G. Kids will find each new song is getting easier to learn than the last since they are just adding one or two new fingerings! The other techniques stay the same. A “G” is still a “G”. All those songs use the same six notes.
December brings Chanuka and Christmas each with their own section but we can combine them for a Holiday concert. Suggested songs: “Chanuka,” pg 38, “My Little Dreydl,” pg 41 “Good King Wenceslas” pg 46, “Jolly Old St Nicholas” and “Jingle Bells” both pg 47, “We Three Kings” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” both pg 50.
At this point, some kids might want to play solos so go with the flow, just double or triple the length of those songs and create variety in your concert.
Many years ago, I had a fifth grade student who was having trouble putting it all together. On the night of the concert he had an epiphany. Everything fell into place for him right before my eyes and he proclaimed he had to play a solo. We just plugged him into the song he wanted to be featured on. GREAT MOMENT for him AND me! You gotta be flexible.
Tip: Chords for all songs are found in the band Director’s book to accompany the band on piano, so brush up on your block voice leading techniques. It will enhance the sound of your band and train your individual students to interact with chords.
To recap, here are the song suggestions you can focus on for each month:
Hot Cross Buns
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Skin and Bones
The Worms Crawl In
The Snake Charmer
For the Beauty of The Earth
For Thy Gracious Blessing
Over the River and Through the Wood
This brings us through the first four months of the school year. Next blog will continue with the month of January, the dead month!