The concert schedule for lots of schools is the same year in and year out. Consider shaking things up this year with a “combo” concert! Combine your groups across levels (imagine how big your band will be with students grades 5-12!) or across genres (your 6th grade choir would love to sing a piece or a medley with your high school jazz band!)
Combo Concerts: Men
Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist
One of the most common complaints we hear from choral directors is “I just don’t have enough boys!” Well, we say feature the boys you do have-if you build it, they will come! Even though it can be difficult from a logistical standpoint, combining the male members of your choirs from all levels into one group and can have big dividends. The younger boys will look up to your high school men, and your older men will be gratified that you trust them enough to be examples for your younger students. Below, we suggest a few pieces that would be great for boys of all levels to perform together. While these are all in men’s voicings, many have high Tenor or Tenor I parts that can be sung by your youngest guys, even those with unchanged voices.
Brooklyn’s Here – arr. Mac Huff TB 00123858
Music from Disney’s Broadway smash hit “Newsies” is the perfect vehicle for making your men feel good about singing. The character’s in the show are boys in the same age range as your guys, and the historical context gives many teaching opportunities. The catchy melody of “Brooklyn’s Here” is in an easy 2 part arrangement, great for groups of all sizes. When the tenor part does run low, it almost always double in the bass part, or can be easily taken up the octave for your youngest singers. The “all for one and one for all” attitude creates a great bonding experience.
Baba Yetu – Christopher Tin/arr. Derek Machan TTBB 42801
For a large group of guys, you can’t go wrong with Baba Yetu. This Swahili adaptation of “The Lord’s Prayer” from the video game Civilization IV has an inspiring African feel and haunting melody that will hook your men on the first page. Plenty of solo opportunities mean that you can feature a great soloist or various groups of men. Consider adding ethnic percussion to create a powerful experience your students won’t soon forget.
Manly Men (Men’s Chorus Extravaganza) – Kurt Knecht TTBB a cap. 08501442
Sometimes it’s OK to laugh at ourselves just a little. Poking fun at the men’s chorus tradition and the stereotypes associated with male singers (egotistical tenors vs. super baritone vibrato!) this number is sure to get a giggle (or even a guffaw!) out of your audiences. Consider this if you combine men from several high school and/or adult community choirs.
The Vagabond – Mark Patterson TTB or TBB BL821
Mark Patterson’s original solo arrangement of this tune (found in the solo collection “Heroes and Vagabonds”) has been a popular choice for years. This new arrangement for 3 part men captures the feeling of the original solo with a nod to the Robert Louis Stevenson poem of the same name. The opening solo could easily be moved up the octave, giving an opportunity to showcase your young unchanged voices in their best range.
I Am That Man – Mark Hayes TTBB 31330
Sometimes music education is about life lessons. I Am That Man is an inspiring piece based on President Barack Obama’s first inaugural address. Perfect for multi-grade level and multi-generational ensembles, this specifically addresses male students, asking them to be leaders in their community “not by might or power, but with gentleness of heart, with courage and compassion.” This thought-provoking discussion starter will send a great message to your students and your audience.
There you have it folks…5 great pieces for men’s choir, and not a pirate, sailor, knight or lost girlfriend in sight! For more recommendations for men’s groups or combination concerts, give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at email@example.com.
Rachel Steele has been working in the choral department at Stanton’s since 2013. She previously taught middle school and high school band and choir for 13 years, and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music education from The Ohio State University. Currently a member of the Heisey Wind Ensemble and a musician at Epiphany Lutheran Church (Pickerington, OH,) Rachel also enjoys reading, sewing, baking and the Pittsburgh Steelers!