This post is for the The Art of Choral Techniques class to refer to as you work your the Repertoire Reservoir and Peer Teaching (PTE) projects.
First, though, here is the most current version of the Syllabus:
This is a PDF of a Canon Collection, which we will continue to build upon as the semester progresses.
Here is another canon by William Billings (1746-1800): Wake Ev’ry Voice, that also includes a rare “Continuo” part.
Here is a recording of the canon by University of Colorado Boulder’s University Choir (Fall 2011) conducted by Dr. Jeffrey S. Gemmell.
The original version, as first published on p. 1 of Billings’ The New-England Psalm-Singer (1770), was engraved in a circular form by Paul Revere.
Speaking of Williams Billings, take a moment to look at the complete publication of his Continental Harmony (1794), which includes a wonderful canon (PDF, p. 7), Connection, also engraved in an artful way!
Notice, too, the organization of entire book, with rudiments covered first, followed by the hymns and anthems. (Complete publication is inserted as a PDF immediately under the screenshot of the title page below.) Such books were sold by Billings when he went from town to town leading Singing Schools to improve the state of church music in colonial churches. This was really our country’s first music education. What are the similarities (and differences) when compared to our current strategies of teaching music?
One of my favorite anthems from this publication is An Anthem for Thanksgiving, a setting of Psalm 148, on p. 35. Here is a recording performed University of Colorado Boulder’s University Choir, Dr. Jeffrey S. Gemmell, conductor (Fall 2012).
GENERAL PEDAGOGICAL POINTERS FOR TEACHING CANONS
- Teach the melody as a song. Use the appropriate strategies (call-response by phrase, solfege, text, neutral syllable, etc.) to teach musical independence of melodic material before attempting any harmonies. Upon repetitions, focus on vocal technique, tone, expressivity, etc. to stabilize firm learning.
- Divide the students into appropriate sections. Begin “partnering” with two voices at various distances to achieve initial success at harmonizing parts. Begin with an awareness of two-part counterpoint and highlight the horizontal feel of line; concurrent harmonies are a by-product of linear polyphony.
- If a three- or four-part round, introduce layering by part based on continuing success.
- In performance, there are many options to consider using the initial experience as a guide (build upon previous learning), for example:
(a) Perform entire piece in unison
(b) Go to two parts, perhaps at a greater distance, so that on the repeats you can break into three or four parts w/o stopping (e.g., parts 1 & 2, then 3 & 4 at 8 measure distance; after two repetitions, divide further into part 1 (4 measures), part 2 (4 measures), part 3 (another 4 measure), part 4 (another 4 measure). This will allow the canon to continue without a break.
(c) Know that there are options on how to organize entries/voice parts, but make sure the choir is ready and plan according to structure of the piece.
(d) When going into parts, remind choir to sing each voicing twice to solidify procedure and build confidence without the canon breaking down in the middle!
- There are also many options for concluding canons. Experiment to find which one works best for the piece, for the effect you want to achieve, and for which the choir sounds the best. Options include:
(a) Let the canon fade away naturally, with each part concluding the canon as written.
(b) If (a) does not create a strong enough ending, have all parts join for final phrase.
(c) Have each part conclude by holding the final note of a certain phrase based on when another part reaches the end of the canon. This will create a fully harmonized ending with everyone participating. This will negate the fading effect. Such a conclusion is especially appropriate if certain phrases within the canon are at a higher tessitura, allowing sopranos/tenors to end on a phrase with a higher final pitch, which they can then sustain most comfortably.
- Be secure in your score preparation and lesson plan in terms of your procedure regarding all of the above; achieve a musical continuity and keep appropriate musical tempo and pedagogical pacing. Be aware of the musical proceedings – keep track of the students’ progress – and be ready to jump in, if necessary, to aid any part that might have difficulties. Unless required, do not sing along with choir – focus your attention on listening to the whole ensemble.
LIST OF REPERTOIRE THAT WORKS!!
Below is a comprehensive list of choral music that I have used throughout my career that is “proven” and “tested” and “works” in rehearsals, performances, church settings. After presenting a list of websites (organizations and publishers) that you should know (with active links), various levels/voicings/categories are presented: High School, Middle Level, Elementary School, Larger Advanced Works, Holiday Repertoire, and Church Anthems.
For those of you who have church positions or may in the future, here is a list compiled recently by the national ACDA “Music in Worship” R & S (Repertoire and Standards) committee of favorite church anthems.
MUSICAL STYLE PERIODS, GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS, PERFORMANCE PRACTICE CHECKLIST, COMPOSERS AND EXEMPLARS
Another valuable source for your repertoire reservoir assignments is this handout I’ve assembled that covers the Medieval Period through the 19th Century (Romantic Period). This should serve as a review of what you’ve learned in Music History and Music Theory and provide a resource for how you will develop performance practice concepts for rehearsal plans. There is also a helpful list of composers and repertoire exemplars from each period. Most compositions are available on the Choral Public Domain website (http://www0.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page).
MISCELLANEOUS HANDOUTS REGARDING REPERTOIRE
It’s amazing what you can find on the internet when you spend some time searching. The resources below were discovered via a simple search.
These two handouts, The Great Choral Treasure Hunt: Where’s All the Good Music, Vols. I & II, were prepared for the Wisconsin Music Educators Association Conference in October 2003. The presenters were Margaret Jenkins, Randal Swiggum, and Rebecca R. Winnie and the reading session music packets were supplied by J. W. Pepper music. Finding great music that is accessible to elementary, middle level, and young high school singers is a time-intensive, never-ending quest. Here are strategies to find repertoire of the best quality, and ways to analyze it for great teaching ideas, using the CMP (Comprehensive Musicianship Through Performance) model as a guide.
Here is another helpful handout, Top Repertoire Choices for School Choirs, found on-line (no author cited). This is a list of some “no fail” choral octavos for choirs of all ages and abilities. Within each voicing, the pieces are arranged roughly in the following order: Classics/Masterworks, Contemporary works, “Multi-cultural” music (including American folk music), and Pop/Jazz/Broadway selections. Note that no distinction is made regarding difficulty.
SAMPLE: REPERTOIRE RESERVOIR PROGRAM LIST for a SPRING CONCERT
Since students requested a “model” of how to make a program list for the Repertoire Reservoir assignment, an example of the format and content that would work is embedded as a PDF below. Simply consider this a guide; feel free to add to the list anything you might find helpful for later use. Remember, this research is for you to build a collection of pieces you might teach someday at the elementary, middle, or high school level. Be creative and try to find repertoire that you feel passionate about and want to share with your students. These compositions will be the core of your choral ensemble content!! Have fun and find great stuff! Remember to begin with all of the resources posted above to save yourself some work!!
REPERTOIRE RESERVOIR GRADE SHEET (TEMPLATE)
SAMPLE: PTE OCTAVO ANALYSIS FORM: BYRD’S Non nobis Domine
PDF of SSA Arrangement of Non nobis Domine (see TKTS, p. 295, for SAB edition):
Example of Completed Octavo Analysis Form:
Blank Octavo Analysis Form (.docx for download):
Additional Recordings to encourage LISTENERSHIP (PTE Repertoire)
(1) Churchill: Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair (Westminster Choir, Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt, conductor)
(2) Bennett: Weep, O Mine Eyes (Cambridge Singers, John Rutter, conductor)
(3) Pitoni: Cantate Domino (Canticum Novum Stellenbosch Student Church Choir
Conductor: Louis van der Watt)
(4) Pitoni: Cantate Domino (Little Flower?)
(5) Praetorius: Psallite, unigenito (Cappella Lacensis, Philipp Meyer, conductor)