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I teach at a middle school (grades 7-8-9) where band is considered an activity rather than a subject (read: the kids are not expected--much less required--to practice on their own). Despite this, in the past two years I've been able to teach them to play with some good musicianship.

This upcoming year looks to be a rebuilding one with no outstanding players in any section. I'm wondering if any other band directors out there can recommend specific pieces to use with them. I'm looking for arrangements that are fun to play, present maybe a small challenge and sound good. I think, most of all, they need to be pieces that the kids can actually look forward to and ask to play! Thank you.
 

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jaysne -

Is there a state music list you can use as a reference? If not, many other states have something along that line as "suggestions for performance." The Texas list came out a week or so ago. Much of the music on the Grade 1 or 2 list is probably playable by your ensemble. If you are looking for specific titles, let me know and I'll send some your way...
 

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"Rites of Tamburo" by Robert W. Smith
"Portrait of a Clown" by Ticheli
"Exaltation" by James Swearingen

These 3 tunes have a large amount of concepts for your students to sink their teeth into.

"Rites" is very easy but strengthens their ideas of ostinatos, cuture, world instruments, dynamics, etc... Its a powerful, loud chart that sounds more difficult than it actually is.

"Portrait" is amazing. It describes the two sides of a clown. Huge amounts of concepts to teach...Tonality, major section for happy clown, minor section for sad clown, articulation, blend and balance, catchy melody for the upper winds...This is a MUST play for every ensemble at least once.


"Exaltation" is a strong up tempo chart that would be great to open a concert with. It's more challenging than the other two. It has a lot of opportunities to strengthen syncopation, and extend their range. The percussion gets to work out exciting 16th note patterns.

You can sample most of these at jwpepper.com
 

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i played engines of resistance 3 times in 6th- 8th grade
and all the bands i was in loved it.
it never striked me as being difficult.
 

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+1 for Rites of Tamburo, it was a set piece for a state concert band competition but definitely is easier than it sounds. I would also say some medleys from motion scores, such as the lion king, aladdin etc as they are satisfying to play but not on the difficult side.
 

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I'd recommend some marches.

They're always fun to play. Nice upbeat tempo through out the whole piece.

One particular piece, though, that I'd recommend would be Grant Country Celebration, arranged by Mark Williams. It moves in and out of 4/4 time to 3/4, and covers different times, rhythms, and other concepts (such as grace notes).

Also go for some Pirates of the Carribean scores. The Dead Man's Chest score, at least, developed the bass line. They're also quite fun to play.

And if your school band is advanced enough, try throwing Mission Impossible at them.
 
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