Accessible Arrangements of Wind Band Standards

The last couple of years have seen a variety of more accessible arrangements of wind band standards for bands at the grade 3 level and younger.  From themes from the Holst suites, to standard works by Grundman, Grainger, Vaughan Williams, etc., these arrangements do a nice job of easing some of the range and technical demands while retaining the character and sound of the originals.

While it is worth it to wait until students reach high school to play the original Holst First Suite in Eb or Vaughan Williams’ Sea Songs, these easier arrangements are perfect for introducing students to and allowing the performance of standard band works for programs that may achieve grade level 3 in terms of difficulty or depth of instrumentation.  This year there are seven new arrangements ranging in difficulty from grades 1-3 including selections from Alfred Reed’s Armenian Dances – Part 1, Grundman’s The Blue and the Gray, and Grainger’s Shepherd’s Hey.  For more young arrangements of wind band standards, visit the junior high Wind Band Classics heading in the concert band Listening Library.

Selections from Armenian Dances – Part 1
Alfred Reed, arr. Douglas E Wagner
Grade 2
Part 1 of Armenian Dances is the first of a four-movement suite drawn from the folk song arrangements and original musical works of Armenian composer Komitas Vardapet collected during the early 20th century. Each of Reed’s four movements is represented in this lush through-played medley. Douglas Wagner has crafted a rewarding musical addition to the young band repertoire.

The Blue and the Gray
Clare Grundman, arr. Robert Longfield
Grade 3
Published in 1961 commemorating 100 years after the start of the Civil War, Clare Grundman’s classic work has become a staple in the repertoire. Robert Longfield’s adaptation for younger bands maintains the character of the original as well as all of the tunes, but in a shorter and more concise setting. Includes Kingdom Coming, Marching Through Georgia, Tenting Tonight, The Yellow Rose of Texas, The Bonnie Blue Flag, Aura Lee, Dixie, Battle Cry of Freedom, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Pilatus: Mountain of Dragons
Steven Reineke, arr. Matt Conaway
Grade 2.5
Joy, intrigue, and excitement abound in this new arrangement of a Steven Reineke classic! Matt Conaway has pared down the difficulty and length of the original work to make this accessible to less experienced performers. Don’t miss this opportunity to provide your audience with an exciting programmatic work that will be the centerpiece of your next concert!

The Promise of Living
Aaron Copland, arr. James Curnow
Grade 3
James Curnow has skillfully adapted this classic Copland work for younger players while maintaining the transparency and integrity of the original. Solo lines and chamber-like playing is beautifully offset with rich, full ensemble passages. A marvelous addition to the repertoire of classic adaptations for young bands.

Salvation is Created
Pavel Tschesnokoff, arr. Michael Story
Grade 1
Salvation Is Created, written in 1912 by Russian composer, conductor, and teacher Pavel Tschesnokoff (1877–1944), was one of the last sacred choral works Tschnesnokoff wrote before being compelled towards secular music by the Soviet Union. One of the most enduring and beautiful chorales ever written, this young arrangement is a great way to introduce group phrasing and expression.

Shepherd’s Hey
Percy Aldridge Grainger, arr. Chip De Stefano
Grade 0.5
Great for the end of the first year, or returning second year players, Chip De Stefano’s arrangement is a nice introduction to the music of Percy Grainger. Push your ensemble’s development with staccato articulation, light style, basic 8th note groupings, subdivision & tempo, and plenty of rhythmic and counting independence. For an extra challenge, push the tempo toward the end…oh, and watch out for that stinger!

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Categories: Composers, Concert Band, Music Education, New Publications, Staff Picks

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