Identifying Quality Arrangements of Western Choral Masterworks Suitable for Middle School Choir

May 20, 2016 / By: Sarah Valle

The purpose of this analysis is to identify arrangements of historic choral masterworks from the Western choral tradition that are appropriate for middle school singers. This repertoire is often underrepresented in the middle school choral program because teachers view it as too difficult.  Although in their original form these pieces may extend beyond the vocal capabilities of middle school singers, there are published arrangements of these works that are well suited for this age group. Many leaders in the field of choral music education speak to the legitimacy of using choral masterworks in an altered form, and they advocate using these arrangements so that middle school students have the opportunity to experience this repertoire. This project gives middle school choral teachers a template for determining the quality and appropriateness of these arrangements for the middle school singer, and it provides a list of published arrangements that meet the criteria set forth in the template. The template identifies authenticity, range of vocal parts, difficulty level, and language considerations as factors for determining the appropriateness of these arrangements for middle school singers. A list of published octavos that meet these criteria include three-part mixed, SAB (soprano, alto, baritone), and SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) repertoire organized by historical period. The project concludes with the author’s personal experience using arrangements of choral masterworks in the middle school choir setting.