Middle school 7-8 choir question

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    I teach a 12-week mixed choir comprised of 7th and 8th graders. These kids are very inexperienced vocally, but for the most part, like to sing. I have had success with unison music, rounds, and most things that are imitative. If I were to attempt two-part music with them, what advice would anyone have? I’m also always on the lookout for appealing canons. (See above!)


    Partner songs!! I think on Pinterest I discovered a list of kiddie songs which go together (when sung together they create harmony).
    Search up this idea for more advanced songs…. my 7th and 8th graders would’ve thrown tomatoes at me if I suggested singing two Kindergarten songs haha.

    However, my elementary choir loved songs from these two books by Albrecht / Althouse – Grab A Partner and Grab Another Partner
    http://www.jwpepper.com/3286762.item#.VqgtAllj7Z0 …. They took folk songs and wrote cute little ditties to go along with them. The second line / partner song is mostly harmony, but I taught it as another song to help the kids think of their parts independently. In about 2 years of using these books I used at least 3 songs for my concerts. All were huge hits!! I highlighted the two parts in different colors before I presented it to my choir. …. Both books come with a perf / accomp CD. Performance for each is supposed to sequence as follows: Part 1, Part 2, both parts together.
    My only problem with the arrangements was that they’re each only about 2 minutes. One year –before finding a longer song to open my program– I almost gave the conductor’s score to my pianist and asked her to vamp after once through so that we could repeat it.

    When all else fails, have the kids improvise a vocal ostinato to accompany a given melody!
    🙂 Good luck.


    Sorry to be late to the party!
    I used a couple great books of partner songs arr by Sally Albrecht and Jay Althouse with my elementary choir and had the same problem — they’re 90 seconds long each on average!! A colleague accompanied my concerts on piano. I seriously considered asking her (though never did) to follow my edits to extend the piece. I was going to use standard extension things – repeat 2/3 of the song on “la” and pick up the words near the end; repeat a section again and clap on beats 2 and 4; repeat a section with piano only while the choir does choreography. Of course some of these would involve the third time around with harmony.

    Canons: the Taco Bell canon is fun and harmonic! Google it. A friend does it with her middle schoolers every year.
    There are also silly cannons like the Star Wars cannon. Middle schoolers are VERY picky, moody and social. If they don’t like it, it ain’t flyin’!! (I taught 9 years in K-8 inner city!!) If their friends think it’s corny, it ain’t happening!! It’s gotta be current, appealing and yet musical (if only for you).

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