Band Directors Teaching Choir: SAB or 3 Part Mixed?

Here at Stanton’s12VBF_ConspirareHandel, we’re aware of the rising number of music teachers working outside of their specialty.  Cutbacks have forced many instrumental specialists to begin teaching choir-but never fear!  In this series, we will try to give some advice on where to start, as well as recommending some “tried and true” products that will help you become a great choral educator!

Most musicians, no matter their focus, are familiar with the traditional SATB voicing for groups of mixed gender.  If you are new to choir, however, you may not be familiar with the designations SAB and 3-Part Mixed.  While many publishers group these voicings together, they are not the same.  It is important to know the difference so that you can pick music best suited to your students’ needs.

3 Part Mixed music is usually intended for choirs with boys who are just beginning a voice change.  The boys part is notated in the bass clef, but the range is generally from about F below middle C to E above middle C.  The tessitura of the music is generally higher.  This can sometimes make it uncomfortable for students who have a developed lower range or are experiencing a voice change that has eliminated their mid-range.

SAB arrangements are intended for groups with men whose voices have settled into a lower, more mature register.  The range of SAB music is lower, usually spanning from the C below middle C to middle C, and the tessitura is lower.  This music is intended for adult/upper grade male singers or male singers who have temporarily lost their mid-range due to their voice change.  This music can be difficult for students whose voices have not yet changed or are just beginning to change.

Don’t be shy about asking for help, especially if you are new to the choral world.  As always, the experienced choral directors at Stanton’s are thrilled to help you select materials, make recommendations or give advice.    Contact us at 1-800-42-MUSIC, extension 1 or visit our store.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Previous posts in this series: Warm-Ups and Rounds; Sight-Singing


Categories: Concert Band, Music Education, Music on a Budget, Orchestra, School Choral, Teacher Materials

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4 replies


  1. Band Directors Teaching Choir-Help! I’m not a pianist! « Stanton's Sheet Music
  2. Band Directors Teaching Choir-Solo and Ensemble Pt. 1 « Stanton's Sheet Music
  3. Band Directors Teaching Choir: Solo and Ensemble Pt. 2 « Stanton's Sheet Music
  4. Band Directors Teaching Choir-SAB or SATB? « Stanton's Sheet Music

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