News & Views Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lighter styles for Middle School Orchestra! Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stanton’s Dan Clark is has been reviewing new publications and making his choices to recommend for the 2010-11 school year. Here are some of Dan’s suggestions for your developing ensembles:

BLUE RIDGE RUN, Alan Lee Silva, Gr. 2
The title implies bluegrass, and while there are some fiddling elements in this spirited gem, it has more of an Americana film score feel than anything else.  Violas and second violins get to shine on the melody under a staccato first violin obbligato and the cellos and basses really get to punctuate the action with accented lines that propel the piece forward.  Some very effective “fp” markings provide yet more variety and a tinkling piano part adds nice color initially but then settles down to reinforce the string parts.  Open string fifths and tremolo add flavor and a learning tool.

SPY VS. SPY, Matt Turner, Gr. 2
If you were (are?) a reader of Mad Magazine, you know the cartoon series of over the top antics between the white garbed spy vs. the black garbed spy that was an exaggeration of the already exaggerated spy movies of the 1960s and 1970s epitomized by James Bond.  Matt Turner has captured the feel of the soundtracks of those films in this viscous, Latin groove.  Add guiro, bongos, conga and triangle to accentuate the Latin rhythms, get your students' ears acclamated to the jazz harmony, set your best improvisor free on a 12 bar pentatonic or blues scale solo and you'll have the makings of a real winner.  It's cool, man!

SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE, Jack Bruce, Pete Brown, Eric Clapton, arr. Michael Hopkins, Gr. 2.5
It's the grandaddy of all rock “riff” tunes – and everybody gets to play the riff!  The rock band Cream's biggest claim to fame from back in 1967 is reborn in a string orchestra format that surprisingly fits the genre quite well.  The essence of the tune is captured as realistically as the medium is capable and there are even optional guitar, electric bass and drum set parts and room for an improvisational solo for whomever wants to tackle it to make it more realistic.  There are a fair amount of accidentals, but they are repeated over and over, so they will eventually fall under the hands just fine.  Rock rhythms don't look good written down, so the first read-through may be ragged, but once your kids catch the groove it'll be “Katie, bar the door!”  Your students' parents (and grandparents these days!) will love it!

For more excellent recommendations for your string program, contact Dan at 1-800-42-MUSIC, ext 2.

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