News & Views Friday, October 31, 2014

Category: New Publications

Monster Mash for Middle School Choir 31 October, 2014

Monster Mash

Words and Music by Greg Gilpin

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

monster mash

Admit it…you smiled a little when you saw the words “Monster Mash!”   This Greg Gilpin choral arrangement of the one hit wonder from Bobby “Borris” Picket and the Crypt-Kickers has great potential for silliness.  The spoken solo we all know so well from the original version steals the show, and the choral parts are a snap to teach, full of ’60’s doo-wop fun.  Consider some of these ideas to use “Monster Mash” in performance or in your classroom:

  • Teach your kids about pop music in the 1950’s and 60’s, especially dances popular with teenagers, like the Mashed Potato and the Twist.  Try out some dance moves as you sing the song, or let small groups work on choreography for a section of the piece.
  • Ask a male teacher or even a principal (who doesn’t mind making a fool of themselves) to be your “surprise guest soloist.”  You can reveal your guest to the choir a few days before the performance when he shows up to rehearse, and then enlist them as your co-conspirators.  Ask the students to keep the identity of the soloist a mystery from their parents, friends, and concert guests-they’ll feel exclusive and you’ll give them a great bonding experience.
  • Split up the spoken solo among your students who want to “ham it up.”  Let them do a quick costume change backstage before they come out for their portion.
  • If you have some students who are into audio sampling, let them come up with your “background track” full of spooky lab sounds.  Better yet, take your whole class to the computer lab and see what they can come up with!

For more novelty number ideas, or great pieces for recruiting, give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC.  Shop Stanton’s for all your Spooky Sheet Music needs!

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!

New! Sight-Singing Materials for Your Choir 30 October, 2014

eisenhower-2_DONELet’s be honest, there is no perfect sight-singing resource for everyone.  Educational philosophies, students’ prior music education, ability level and teacher comfort all play a part when you choose your materials.  Here are two new sight-singing  resources that we hope many teachers will find helpful.



sing at first sight more melodiesSing at First Sight…More Melodies!By Andy Beck and Brian Lewis

Andy Beck’s Sing at First Sight books are used by many choral teachers as their sight-singing “textbook.”  This is a supplemental book that gives more practice for reading rhythms and melodies at all levels, and is useful regardless of whether or not you use Sing at First Sight as your primary text.  An included CD has reproducible PDF files for every page in the book, so you won’t have to spend your whole music budget on new sight-singing materials.  The easiest exercises begin with quarter notes on do and re only, and progress to include all key signatures, compound meter, and rhythms including dotted 8th/16th notes.

Book w/ CD (42793)……………………………………………………….$39.99


SOS.jpgSOS: Simplify Our Sight-Reading – By Laura Farnell & Mary Jane Phillips

Acclaimed choral composer and educator Laura Farnell has partnered with Mary Jane Phillips to create a new system for teaching sight singing.  SOS (Simplifying Our Sight Reading,) is based on the premise that students will comprehend sight singing better if they are exposed to one element at a time.  The authors separate pitch, rhythm, and notation before moving on to unison, 2 part and 3 part melodies.  An excellent supplement to the directors resource are the flash cards for both Bass and Treble Clef.  Large enough to be read by the entire choir at once, each shows one measure and can be combined with the other cards for a nearly endless number of exercises.


Director’s Resource (BLB009)…………………………………………………………….$9.99
Rhythm Reader (BL836)……………………………………………………………………$1.95
Flash Cards for Treble Clef (BLB010)……………………………………………………$19.99                                                                   Flash Cards for Bass Clef (BLB011)……………………………………………………….$19.99

For more recommendations of sight reading materials, give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC, check out our website, or visit us to browse in our store.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Choral Collections-Reproducible Budget-Stretchers 29 October, 2014

money_signTight budgets are a universal problem amongst teachers in general, and music teachers in particular.  Stanton’s understands that you might not always have the money to purchase new octavos, so consider one of these NEW budget-stretching collections for your group!  All are fully reproducible, so you can make as many copies as you need for your students without infringing on copyright law.  In addition, all include an accompaniment CD, making them concert ready and easy to rehearse.


multiple voicings,jpgMultiple Voicings for Middle School Voices - compiled by Mary Lynn Lightfoot  SAB, Three Part Mixed, SSA, TB and 2 Part.
This reproducible book is both a unique value and a great resource for quality repertoire for developing voices! Included in this collection are 2-3 different selections for each of the following voicings: SAB, 3-Part Mixed, SSA, TB and 2-Part. Reproducible PDFs are included on the supporting CD, along with the accompaniment tracks for each title.
Collection w/CD (30/3139H)…………………………………………………………….. $44.95


let the women singLet the Women Sing!by Greg Gilpin SSA

Let the Women Sing! is a new reproducible collection of chorals for soprano and alto voices.  Folk songs, holiday music, spirituals, inspirational songs, and patriotic themes fill this nine-song collection. This economical kit includes an enhanced CD-ROM with accompaniment and performance tracks, information about the composer, as well as reproducible vocal parts and instrument pages. Whether you have 10 or 100 female singers, this must-have collection will keep you on budget while supplying your program with excellent choral literature for your young female singers for many years to come.

Collection w/ CD (35029097)………………………………………………………………………………..$49.99

Also available:

Let the Men Sing! by Greg Gilpin (TTB)

Collection w/ CD (35012576)………………………………………………………………………………..$49.99

Just for the Gals compiled by Larry Pugh (SSA)

Collection w/ CD (30/2717H)………………………………………………………………………………..$44.95

Just for the Guys compiled by Larry Pugh (TB)

Collection w/ CD (30/2590H)………………………………………………………………………………..$44.95

Just for the Guys at Christmas compiled by Larry Pugh (TB)

Collection w/ CD (30/2850H)………………………………………………………………………………..$44.95

For more information on these collections or other choral collections, please give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at


Have a “Jolly Jingling” Christmas! 23 October, 2014

Feature your elementary choir this winter with one of these great octavos, as featured on Stanton’s Elementary General Music Clinic with Sharon Burch:

Goldfish Christmas by Alan Billingsley
What child has not wanted a puppy for Christmas? This original novelty song is a sweet and funny look at what can happen when we don’t get exactly what we want. Written in a theatrical style, this tune lends itself to riser choreography, leading to plenty of smiles all around!

A Jolly, Jingling Carol Medley arr. Greg Gilpin
This concise arrangement seamlessly strings together six carol favorites, featuring various twists on meter and style while maintaining accessibility. It is perfect as a festive opener or closer that audiences and singers will love.

We Are Santa’s Elves arr. Greg Gilpin
Made popular on the holiday television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” this Johnny Marks song is a bright new work for young voices and includes optional kazoos for added fun. Simple, repetitious part-writing makes this quick to learn and easy to add staging, movement, and costumes.

Welcome Winter On This Night by Greg Gilpin
This peaceful setting features Bach’s gorgeous “Bist du Bei Mir” partnered with a gentle original melody and Greg Gilpin’s descriptive winter text. Their simple beauty combines to provide an excellent vehicle for musical expression and interpretation.

For more holiday suggestions for your young choir, please contact us!

Stanton’s Spotlight – String Riffs 22 October, 2014

String Riffs

Recommended by Dan Clark, Orchestral Music Specialist

string riffs vol. 1String Riffs is written by Karen Koger (a former Stanton’s employee!) who earned her bachelor’s degree at The Ohio State University and her master’s degree in cello performance pedagogy from Arizona State University.  As a lifelong musician, she taught private cello lessons for more than two decades and now works with 4th, 5th and 6th grade strings in the Mesa Public Schools (AZ.)  A member of ASTA, she is also an active performer in the Phoenix area.
String Riffs is divided into three progressive volumes of teaching pieces, from very easy to intermediate, complete with concept mapping lesson plans.  They work from unison lines to full harmony and along with the basic lesson for each piece, there are optional challenging parts for those students who need a challenge.  As teaching pieces, they can certainly work in the classroom, but can also be used for concerts.  Tuneful and fun as well as instructive, they have very creative titles that pique students’ imaginations.  Many pieces have a Southwestern flavor that contributes Native American and Hispanic multicultural elements.

  • Score and a CD with digital files of the parts.  Make as many parts as you need – on your honor!
  • Concept Maps – built-in lesson plans for each piece
  • Rhythm Charts – each volume adds more complex rhythmic combinations
  • Alignment with National Core Standards
  • Segmented and Multi-level pieces for teacher assignment and/or student choice
  • Wide range of musical styles so everything doesn’t sound the same
  • Substantial cello and bass parts in the advanced volumes so lower strings don’t feel left out
  • String Libs – fun, fill-in-the-blank ( a la Mad Libs) scary, stringy stories, written by Ms. Koger’s students

Volume 1 – HME2001 – Grade 1 – $49.95
Volume 2 – HME2002 – Grade 1.5 – $49.95
Volume 3 – HME2003 – Grade 2 – $49.95

String Riffs is a refreshing, new approach to young string pedagogy.  Stanton’s featured them at their New Music Reading Session in July, 2014 and nearly sold out of our first shipment.  If you work with strings in 4th, 5th and 6th grade, these are excellent resources with which to supplement your class method book.

Dan Clark has worked at Stanton’s since 1979, primarily with orchestra music and print promotions.  A “working” musician, he’s a classical cellist, a rock & jazz bassist and a folk & country guitarist/singer. His free time is spent with family or reading, gardening, cycling and working puzzles. He also has a reputation as a pretty good joke teller. Seriously.


Pertinent Professional Development 21 October, 2014

by Jen Sper and Ken Tilger, School Music Specialists

IMG_0809Professional development days/sessions can be of great benefit to educators – IF they are relevant and applicable to your subject area! We were honored to be invited to present sessions at the Fine Arts Professional Development Day through the Tri-County Educational Service Center in Wooster, Ohio on October 17. Music teachers from Ashland, Wayne and Holmes counties gathered at the Wayne Center for the Arts for a full day of arts-related professional development sessions – a great opportunity to both learn from outside presenters and network with other nearby music educators!

With numerous new options for band warm-up/technique and beginning band, Ken’s session for band and orchestra directors highlighted books from publishers including Alfred (Sound Innovations; S.I. Ensemble Development), Hal Leonard (Essential Elements Interactive), FJH (Measures of Success; Warm-Ups and Beyond), Kjos (Tradition of Excellence; Technique & Musicianship), and Focus On Music (Scale & Rhythm Chunks). Online resources through the Stanton’s website were explored (Jukebox, Listening Library, mobile app, etc.), as well as sharing the Top 10 New Titles for Band for 2014-2015 using a custom playlist created through the Stanton’s Jukebox.

Jen presented a reading session for the choral directors in attendance, featuring new concert, festival and holiday literature for middle school and high school ensembles. A couple of brave sight-readers even served as accompanists! Many titles included were specially selected as quality options for OMEA Adjudicated Event performances, or are new additions to the required repertoire lists. Also discussed were recent changes to the required lists, and how these changes affect teacher’s programming and budgeting options.

IMG_0812On the way back, IMG_0813a stop at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn in Ashland was a requirement (we gotta eat, right?). One of Jen’s favorite stops on her way back and forth to college, Ken had never been before – and it’s a lot to take in! Much cheese (and dip, and jelly, and cider, and and and…) was consumed. :)

Are YOU planning programming for an upcoming professional development event? Contact us and let us help! Our knowledgeable and experienced staff are able to present a wide variety of sessions (and would love a field trip out of the store!), and we’re happy to tailor our topics to fit your needs.

About the authors:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.

Jen has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, and an active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys eating good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.

“The Stars Point the Way” 17 October, 2014

For a special feature for your treble ensembles in your upcoming holiday performances, Stanton’s suggests:

The Stars Point the Way by Mark Sirett
The Stars Point the Way was commissioned by the Cantilon Choirs of Edmonton, Alberta and was awarded “Outstanding Choral Composition for 2010” by the Association of Canadian Choral Communities. This Christmas carol is sub-titled “Cosmic Bethlehem” and is a beautiful mix of traditional metaphors and contemporary references that will engage your singers and audiences and make the miracle relevant and personal.

Cradle Hymn by Kim Andre Arnesen
The Norwegian composer has created a beautiful, expressive piece set to a poem by the famous English hymn writer Isaac Watts. Sing it at Christmas or any time of the year.

For more stunning holiday suggestions, contact us at 1.800.426.8742. Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!

Don’t Miss These Christmas Arrangements! 15 October, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist -

While we are promoting 9 excellent new Christmas titles for young band this year, these 2 are unique stand-outs that you just shouldn’t miss! Both offer great opportunities to advance the musicianship of your groups, and are creative and interesting choices that will add variety to your holiday concert program. I’ve included our promotional write-ups as well as some additional commentary about each piece. I hope you find these recommendations helpful, and that you, your students, and your audience enjoy these pieces as much as I do.

Christmas at the Circus
Randall Standridge
Grade 2.5
Fun from start to finish!  Combining themes from Thunder and Blazes and The Man on the Flying Trapeze with snippets of a ton of holiday favorites, this humorous work is fun to listen to and a blast to play.  High-wire musicianship is a must – from layered themes and accidentals to key, style, and meter changes, and 8th note rhythm dished around the band like Christmas presents, no section receives a lump of coal in this piece!  Christmas at the Circus is a great choice for advanced middle school or young high school bands.

O.K., so this one seems blasphemous not just for religious (or circus music) reasons, but also because the setting utilizes plenty of familiar Christmas songs and carols. No worries – it is very creative, puts an original programming spin on the Instant Concert concept, and gives your audience plenty to hang on to. It will be fun to perform, and don’t be fooled by the grade 2.5 difficulty – it requires enough musicianship that it is perfect for young high school bands and will be a hit with community band programs, as well.

Season of Peace
Gene Milford
Grade 1.5
Inspired by Christmas 1914 when British and German troops in the midst of World War I held an unofficial truce that included singing carols and exchanging food and gifts, Season of Peace blends Dona Nobis Pacem with Silent Night for a moment of calm reflective peace.  Besides being a stirring concert selection, the 3/4 meter, dotted quarter-note rhythms, 8th note and triplet runs, and lyricism provide ample opportunity to advance ensemble musicianship.

Two young band arrangements have been inspired by the 100th anniversary of this event, and this stirring setting stands out. Combining the Dona Nobis Pacem (“Grant us peace”) from the Latin Mass with the stillness and beauty of Silent Night is just brilliant, and our write-up says it all, “…for a moment of calm reflective peace.” That is exactly what this work will provide – a poignant moment of calm reflection amidst the celebratory jubilance (and hustle and bustle) of the season. Again, don’t be put off by the “easy” grade level. Musical maturity is always a must on lyrical works, and can be performed to great effect by more advanced ensembles – the challenge here is not technique, but musicianship. Season of Peace is a wonderful choice educationally (musicianship, music history, AND world history), and is perfect for religious school band programs.

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.

Composer Profile: Stephen Main 14 October, 2014

by Jen Sper, Choral Music Specialist

Steve_Smile_HandHere at Stanton’s Sheet Music, choral composer Stephen Main first captured our attention with his original setting of the In the Bleak Midwinter text in 2006. While not yet prolific by any means – we’ve seen just seven titles from him – we’ve come to trust his name, and know that we’re in for something special! His work is consistently beautiful, with creative melodies and lush harmonic structure that simply feels good to both the singer and the listener.

Especially notable are Main’s contributions to holiday concert repertoire. In the Bleak Midwinter was featured on our Excellence in Choral Literature reading session in 2010, followed by The Darkest Midnight in December in 2013, and Blessed Be That Maid Mary and The Holly and the Ivy in 2014.

Born and raised in New York City, Mr. Main has music in his blood: his mother taught piano and his father, Tom Main, was a professional jazz trombonist with Si Zentner’s band in the 60s. As a choirboy Steve sang at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue under Gerre Hancock. He went on to study violin, piano, organ, theory and composition at the Choate School and then at Oberlin Conservatory. At the same time, he earned his B.A., M.A., and eventually his Ph.D. in Religious Philosophy from the University of Chicago. He is currently the Music Director at Piedmont Community Church, in the Bay Area, where he composes and conducts regular choral and orchestral performances. Stephen is active as an organist, harpist and conductor, with recent appearances in San Francisco, throughout Northern California, New York, Cincinnati and Los Angeles. He lives in San Francisco and LA.

As a composer, Steve’s work has included the recent publication of new choral and symphonic works, multiple commissions, and the completion of the scores for several films. He is a First Prize Winner of the John Ness Beck award for a new American choral work, and a 2007 winner of the American Composers Forum carol contest. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune hailed Stephen’s work as “evocative” music that “captures mystery.”

For more information about Stephen Main and his music, please visit his website.

Stanton’s Recommends: Blessed Be That Maid Mary, The Darkest Midnight in December, The Heavenly Table, In the Bleak Mid-Winter

About the Author:
Jen has been with Stanton’s since 2006. An active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys eating good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.

STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT on Holiday Choral 09 October, 2014

Each year, the knowledgeable staff at Stanton’s chooses select titles to promote to you, our valued customers. We listen to thousands of new issues from scores of publishers and composers to present you with the very best in new music for your ensembles. In our new Stanton’s Spotlight feature, we will put a special focus on one piece that we particularly enjoy, and tell you how it can serve you and your group.

The Little Drummer Boy

arr. Philip Kern

recommended by Jen Sper, School Choral Specialist

Little Drummer Boy-page-001“The Little Drummer Boy” is a standard holiday carol, but this is NOT a standard arrangement! Philip Kern has set it here for a cappella SSATB voices (and short solos on a couple of verses), with an innovative world-music flavor. If you’ve been experimenting with contemporary a cappella repertoire (a la “The Sing-Off” or “Pitch Perfect”), this is a great selection for a December concert. You’ll need basses with a pretty solid low F, and all other ranges are moderate.

The percussion part as written is notated for a single hand drum, but in my opinion this sounds a little anemic. Raid the band room next door for all the world music percussion instruments you can find (and recruit some kids to play!). And you know what would be REALLY cool? If you have a talented vocal percussionist (or two), let them loose on the percussion part and go totally sans instruments!

I love a cappella arrangements for holiday performances, because they give you such freedom to travel with your ensemble – perform in the school cafeteria during lunch (recruit!), at the monthly school board meeting (advocate!), at the local mall or other holiday event (publicize!) or at the nursing home (give back to the community!).

This might be a great piece for your group because it…
•    incorporates a creative world-music style percussion groove, as well as some contemporary a cappella influence.
•    features moderate ranges and straight-forward divisi.
•    can “travel” for holiday performances.

For more great suggestions, please contact our Choral Department at 1.800.42.MUSIC or email us at

“I Love the Winter Weather!” 08 October, 2014

Ready to program your upcoming holiday concert? Stanton’s suggests that you try one of these outstanding choices with your choir:

Carol of the Bells arr. Jay Rouse
A fabulous new find for the holidays! This favorite and familiar tune is crafted as a jazzy a cappella work that is creative and musically rich with diverse vocals, legato at times and crisp and bell-like at others. And let’s not forget the optional high soprano descant! Simply an outstanding arrangement for your singers.

In Dulci Jubilo arr. Audrey Snyder
Here is the joyous carol with Latin and English texts in a flexible and accessible setting that will create many performance options. The piano accompaniment is optional and the vocal parts are varied and colorful making this ideal for Christmas concerts and services.

The Little Drummer Boy arr. Philip Kern
No Christmas season would be complete without hearing this well-loved song. Kern’s fresh a cappella approach, featuring a world-rhythm drum part, really makes the classic shine. “Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum!”

Rise Up Shepherd and Follow arr. Robert L. Jefferson
Robert Jefferson shares his wonderfully rich arrangement of one of the most beautiful African-American Christmas spirituals. The lush harmonic texture announcing “good tidings of great joy” along with Jefferson’s benevolent choral summons to “follow” is sure to add depth to any holiday concert or festival performance.

Wolfgang’s Christmas Canon arr. Tom Fettke
This fabulous masterwork showstopper brings Mozart and the “Deck the Hall” lyrics together in a bright and accessible setting. This delightful novelty selection would make a terrific opener, closer, or encore!

Bethlehem Lullaby arr. Greg Gilpin
The haunting melody of the “Coventry Carol” is paired with original music set to the words of the traditional spiritual “What You Gonna Call Your Pretty Little Baby.” This artful and picturesque partner-style song setting, so special and unique with an elegant and supportive piano accompaniment, will be an unforgettable Christmas selection for your concerts.

Je Ne Fus Jamais Si Aise (Sound of Flute and Drum) arr. Jerry Estes
Pierre Certon’s dancing and lighthearted work is made more accessible for younger voices with this fine arrangement. The harmonic and textural elements remain true to the original, preserving the frivolity of the piece. You may choose to sing only the French and end at the optional fine, or extend the length and continue singing using an English text. Add the flute and percussion parts to create the perfect performance.

A Star Shines Bright by Mary Donnelly & George L.O. Strid
Angels sing “Gloria in excelsis” and a star shines over the stable in Bethlehem – the Nativity is celebrated in this lovely original work especially good for beginning SSA choirs. Well-crafted vocal writing with optional flute.

Little Saint Nick arr. Christopher Peterson
You will have fun, fun, fun with this 1963 holiday classic by the Beach Boys! A great concert showcase for men’s choirs and close harmony groups!

For more suggestions, check out our video below, click here to view our complete School Choral promotion for Holiday 2014, or contact us!

Take a “Holiday Road Trip!” 07 October, 2014

Are you looking for a new Christmas musical to perform with your students this year? Presenting musicals and programs is a great way to provide performance opportunities for young singers, and to teach valuable performance skills. Try one of these brand publications with your students!

Bring On the Snow! by Andy Beck & Brian Fisher
– Grades 4 and up, 30 minutes
This hilarious variety show is chock-full of one-liners, wintertime puns, and even a few knock-knock jokes! Plenty of parts allow you to show off oodles of young actors, or combine roles for just a select group of comedic kids. Silly skits include a pair of wisecracking reindeer, a snowflake ballet class, “Freeze-Whiz” (everyone’s favorite game show), and a directionally-challenged family of geese. It’s a breeze to put together – just stage the scenes around your regular choral formation. Featuring two-part music, appropriate for grades four and up. 30 minutes of bad jokes and belly laughs!

Holiday Road Trip by John Jacobson & Mac Huff
– Grades 4-8, 40 minutes
Celebrate local holiday traditions from coast-to-coast when “Uncle Nick” takes a busload of eager travelers for the ride of a lifetime! From singing the blues in Louisiana and dancing in the streets of Miami to a Texan line dance, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, a carriage ride in New York’s Central Park, and hitting the beach in Malibu, the fun never stops! Does Santa really show up in a boat pulled by eight alligators in New Orleans? Donner is going to Hollywood, Rudolph is posin’ at Muscle Beach, and Dasher is singing in a beach boy band! Discover that the universal themes of peace, joy and love are everywhere. Designed for performers in upper elementary and middle school, this 40-minute musical features seven original songs with connecting script and over 35 speaking parts. The Teacher Edition is filled with quality performance material including piano/vocal song arrangements and choreography, script, and helpful production guide. For added value, the ready-to-use student books include songs and script, and will enhance the musical experience for your young aspiring actors/singers!

For more elementary program suggestions, click here to visit our website or contact us at 1.800.42.MUSIC. Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!

Holiday Choral Reading Session Recap 06 October, 2014

Pandora-Christmas-Music-StationsOn Saturday October 4, Stanton’s Sheet Music hosted our fourth annual FREE Holiday Choral Reading Session for area teachers and college music majors. Our attendees gathered in the James E. Strouse Workshop Hall with our clinicians Jen Sper and Rachel Steele, School Choral Music specialists at Stanton’s, for a wonderful morning of holiday music – and Christmas cookies! What a great way to welcome the season!

Did you miss out on the session? Never fear! Here are just a few of our favorite pieces that were featured:
For middle school choirs: Je Ne Fus Jamais Si Aise by Pierre Certon/arr. Jerry Estes
For high school choirs: In Dulci Jubilo arr. Audrey Snyder
For college choirs: The Little Drummer Boy arr. Philip Kern
For women’s choirs: The Stars Point the Way by Mark Sirett
For men’s choirs: Little Saint Nick arr. Christopher Peterson

For more titles featured on the clinic, check out Stanton’s Virtual Workshop! You’ll be able to preview full octavos with audio demonstrations, as well as LIVE video footage from the session. You can also find all of our Holiday Choral suggestions here, or contact us for more information.

Kid’s Korner for Fall and Christmas 2014 02 October, 2014

Involve your youngest singers in worship this fall and Christmas with one of these great anthems for children’s choirs!

Jesus Loves the Little Children by Charles McCartha
This delightful anthem combines new text with familiar words from “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” A new melody filled with joy and playful syncopation underscores the song’s message of inclusivity and love.

Living God’s Love by Mark Patterson
Bright and spirited, this anthem works in any service, any time of year, and will be especially useful in services of recognition. The composer has created part-singing opportunities through antiphonal singing, echoing, and homophonic harmonies. A beautiful anthem for worship with fantastic part-singing lessons built in! A must-have for your choral library which you’ll use again and again.

This Little Light of Mine arr. Anna Laura Page
Children of all ages will love singing this exuberant setting of the popular spiritual, “This Little Light of Mine,” which also incorporates another favorite of young singers, “Give Me Oil In My Lamp.” Options for dividing the choir into two groups make this a great piece to combine younger and older children’s choirs together for a joyful Sunday anthem.

A Christmas Canon arr. Donald Moore
Who doesn’t love teaching canons and the tune O Waly, Waly / The Water is Wide? This wonderful canon, set with original lyrics, is sure to be a favorite among young singers. Teaching opportunities abound for musical line, phrase development, range extension and part independence. Accessible vocal lines are complemented with an undulating piano part, both of which celebrate “the birth of a tiny child.” Suitable for any holiday concert performance.

How Far Is It to Bethlehem? arr. David W. Music
A wonderful addition to the Rote to Note series for your youngest singers. The composer has combined “How Far Is It to Bethlehem” with hints of “Away in a Manger” in the piano accompaniment, which your younger singers will no doubt recognize. This sweet melody is the perfect next step when your singers are ready to move beyond “Away in a Manger.”

Sing We Now of Christmas arr. Mark Patterson
This masterful setting of the traditional French carol is an ideal choice for older elementary choirs and middle school choirs alike. A creative, accessible piano part provides a superb accompaniment to the carol’s dance-like melody while optional finger cymbals add an additional layer of charm to the presentation. The song’s middle section introduces an easy countermelody that later serves as an optional descant for two-part choirs.

Want more suggestions from Stanton’s? Contact our Choral Department at 1.800.426.8742! Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!

STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT: The Witching Hour 01 October, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist

It’s already October, and I can’t think of a better way to start the month than by shining the Stanton’s Spotlight on The Witching Hour by Randall Standridge for concert band. It’s my favorite, and probably the best, new piece this year!

From the description, “This macabre work entices the listener into that bewitching time of night when dark forces gather to celebrate and do their mischief. Four interconnected themes are announced by haunting chime statements…”  The interconnected themes in different settings and styles combined with the ominous grandfather clock chimes tie the four sections of this work into one cohesive whole with each section representing a quarter hour.

The piece opens with an ominous drone in the low winds and the first tolling of the chimes of both warning and mystery – for whom the bell tolls – to great effect.

The Gathering
The first quarter hour features well written and effective auxiliary percussion, chromatic lines and intervals, tremolo effects in some of the woodwinds, and the typical Eastern European sound/dance style a la Transylvania. The synthesized harpsichord adds a ghastly and slightly grating sound that puts this section over the top!

Spells and Incantations
Haunting mallet percussion sets the eerie feeling of the second quarter hour featuring dynamic swells, haunting long tones and disturbing rhythmic interjections in the trumpets (8th notes – 1 beat triplet – 16th notes). This even-odd-even pattern adds to the off-balance feeling of the section.

The Witches’ Dance
Now that the witches have gathered and cast ceremonial spells and incantations, it’s time to cut loose! Heralded by the familiar chime and an ominous timpani roll, this section is an odd meter (5/4 written as 3/4 + 2/4) dance. In the style of an off-beat waltz, we begin with a steady tempo full of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean sonic flavor highlighted by modal 16th note woodwind runs before a gradual accelerando pushes it to the brink of out-of-control ecstasy.

The Witches’ Flight
One last set of chimes leads into a fourth quarter hour of explosive full ensemble playing. This dance-like section is underpinned by driving 8th notes as the witches take to their brooms and our dark celebration drives to the ending!

As always with these heavily programmatic works, there is plenty to teach ranging from mixed meter, to tempo and style changes and transitions, to accidentals that create the proper harmonic effect, to auxiliary percussion instruments and fun, musical effects. These musically exaggerated settings create opportunities that can really enhance both individual and ensemble musicianship in a context that is a blast to play! It is great seasonal programming for this time of year, a fun musical goal for the spring, or a wonderful (and fresh) adjudication alternative. Ohio directors who want a break from the usual band overture, piece with contemporary “edge”, or wind band standards will be glad to know that The Witching Hour is on the Ohio Class B list for 2015!

The Witching Hour is an original compositional masterpiece. It is a study in perfect form and balance. There are sufficient themes to hold on to, yet it is full of great tonalities, effects, and rhythms that fit its theme and bring the piece to life. Every element serves the greater musical narrative. As a result, it has ongoing forward motion and never gets bogged down. It is challenging but not impossible to play, and most importantly, it is a FUN piece of music! All of these elements combine to allow it to hold the performers’ and audience’s attention. In short, it perfectly meets all the criteria mentioned in my recent What I Listen For post, and is why I’m excited to feature it in my first Stanton’s Spotlight post for this school year!

Other haunting new titles we recommend: Ghosts of the Lost Ship by Tyler S. Grant, Haunted Clocks by Brian Balmages, and Zombie Tango by James Meredith

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He always feels the urge to read Edgar Allan Poe, the original novels featuring traditional Hollywood monsters, and other macabre tales this time of year, yet never does.

Why I Look Forward to New Music from Grand Mesa, and You Should Too! 26 September, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

Grand Mesa CB PromoAmong the dozen or so publishers whose new concert band titles we preview each year, one that I look forward to most is Grand Mesa. While the largest band publishers release 60-100 new titles each year across multiple series, small publishers like Grand Mesa release a limited number of new pieces (22 in 2014). Since we usually listen to publisher promotions from beginning to end, this allows us to preview their entire band promotion in a couple of hours instead of devoting an entire workday (or more) to one single promotion.

This smaller number of new releases, I believe, results in a tighter, more cohesive promotion that is much more enjoyable to listen to. The amount of unique, original writing has really gotten our attention (check out our Composer Profile on Randall Standridge), and the consistency from title to title is excellent. We score each new title on a scale of 1-10 (10 = Awesome!), and most Grand Mesa titles usually receive between a 7 and 10. This quality and consistency has led to Stanton’s promoting 5 of their new titles this year, and 3 Grand Mesa works are currently on the Ohio required concert band lists. Their arrangements run the gamut from contemporary (Adrenaline Engines) to classical (Scenes from Old Russia), and features (Slidin’ Down the Mississippi) to just plain fun (Zooveniers). This variety presents interesting programming and solid teaching opportunities.

Besides releasing really good new music each year, Grand Mesa features some of the coolest, fun, and creative covers (check out the slideshow below to see some of our favorites). In addition, full scores to their works can be viewed online, and you can download recordings of their music for free by creating a login on their website. If you want to see for yourself, check out our recommended titles below or click on the promotional image to preview Grand Mesa’s new titles for 2014-15. You may also use Stanton’s 21-Day Trial to try out in stock and new titles with your students.

I hope this introduction to Grand Mesa Music Publishers provides some exciting new music choices for you and your students, and that you look forward to their new releases each year as much as I do!

Grand Mesa Music Publishers is an independent instrumental music publisher in Grand Junction, Colorado that specializes in concert band, marching band, string orchestra, and solo and ensemble publications. You can learn more about Grand Mesa by visiting their website, and order their publications from Stanton’s Sheet Music.

Stanton’s Recommends: Adrenaline Engines, Angelic Celebrations, Darklands March, Gadget, The Ride of Percival, The Rowan Tree, Ruckus, The Witching Hour, Zooveniers

Click to view slideshow.

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.

Behind the Scenes: What I Listen For 25 September, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist -

Taking our previous Behind the Scenes post (Behind the Scenes: Picking Band Promotions) one step further, I want to share what I hear and listen for when previewing new concert band recordings. Although I’ve broken these ideas down into an outline format, it’s neither a checklist nor sequential; just things I keep in mind while listening. Hopefully this will give you some ideas that you can incorporate in your listening to new music, and further insight into some of the thought process that goes into Stanton’s band promotions.

At “first glance”, I’m listening for elements that make a piece sound unique, creative, and interesting regardless of difficulty, and all of the following contribute to this first impression.

Percussion – One of the things that we’ve noticed over the past decade or so is how much interesting, colorful percussion adds to a piece. Use of accessory instruments, quality mallet writing, and battery percussion beyond “boom-chicks” and basic subdivision makes a huge difference in the sound and maturity of a piece no matter how basic the overall difficulty. This presents great opportunities to teach accessory instruments, and helps keep students engaged – we all know what happens when 12 of your 15 percussionists are sitting idle! Of course, this is a double-edged sword – extensive percussion can really make a piece and there is plenty of great percussion writing right now, however this is a difficult area if you’re lacking enough students or the needed equipment.

Does it sound modern/contemporary? – This really applies to new original pieces. Some of the most fun, contemporary sounding works are incorporating techniques used in modern film scores, and we all know from previewing music that there are arrangements that sound dated. Also, if the piece is supposed to be of the contemporary “edgy” variety, is there enough of a melody or rhythmic hook to hang your hat on? Just doing neat things with sound doesn’t cut it.

If the piece is in a style (or if it is an arrangement), is it authentic? – Nothing makes or breaks a piece for me like capturing the essence of a style. This includes characteristic sound and harmonies, rhythms, and use of instrumentation. There are many pieces that try to incorporate hints of a style, and mostly end up sounding cheesy. Why not introduce students to the most authentic editions available? This creates opportunities to work on rhythmic reading, articulation, phrasing, and musicianship beyond the legato wind band approach. Besides, we all have programmed super-watered pop arrangements designed to be rhythmically “accessible” by young groups, and had to tell students to play the page, not how the tune actually goes. To me this is an opportunity to do the opposite – allow students to use rhythms they already know aurally to learn how to read the notation.

Does the piece justify/live up (or down) to its title? – We’ve all heard the phrase, “never judge a book by its cover.” Aside from wanting the content of a piece to actually be represented by the title, there are numerous examples of decently titled pieces that are good in concept, but (let’s say) underwhelming in their execution. Likewise, there have been a number of pieces that I would personally skip listening to based on their cheesy titles, but since we listen to everything I wind up finding that some are really good, and just deserve a better title.

Will students have fun playing it? – In the last couple of years, I’ve adopted this approach from our Jazz Guy, Ben.

Beginning band music does not have to equal “baby band”. – Modern beginning band arrangements provide many opportunities to explore fun styles and interesting sounds all while staying true to the limitations of beginning instrumentalists. Through the use of interesting percussion, staggered rhythmic motion on basic rhythms, and passing tones, clusters, etc. interesting music can be written at this level. Need proof? Check out the entire FJH Starter Series, and beginning band pieces by Brian Balmages, Sean O’Loughlin, and Robert W. Smith.

What musical concepts/techniques can be taught or reinforced? – Or, put another way, what do your students need to be able to do to play the piece? This idea is integral to our young band promotional write-ups obviously for educational reasons, but also because most publisher descriptions avoid this altogether and instead focus primarily on programming if you’re lucky.

Attention Span! – This is another big one for me that I’ve begun focusing on in the last few years, especially on upper level concert pieces. Basically if I zone out as a trained musician who appreciates quality art for art’s sake, what will parents with limited to no musical experience get out of it? Also, if a piece loses our attention while listening to it, it’s possible that your students won’t be engaged while playing it either.

Lastly, how can the piece be programmed? – While listening, I’m not only thinking about the students learning and performing the music, but the experience of the audience, and how/when a director can find a specific piece useful. This relates to seasonal programming, but also to the type of performance/event and audience that a piece is appropriate for.

I hope you found these ideas insightful and helpful. Feel free to comment below on either our blog or Facebook page and share YOUR thoughts and ideas about evaluating new music.

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.

New for Elementary Choirs for Fall 2014 23 September, 2014

Welcome your elementary choir back to school with one of these great choral octavos, as featured on Stanton’s Elementary General Music Clinic with Sharon Burch:

If I Knew You by Cynthia Gray
Based on Nixon Waterman’s distinguished text, this piece addresses the serious issue of bullying with a poignant and sincere message about acceptance, friendship, and being sensitive to one another. The violin adds another voice of warmth, depth, and beauty to this stunning work.

It’s Possible (from “Seussical”) arr. Andy Beck
What started as words on a storybook page, then travelled to Broadway to light up the stage, is newly arranged for a different use, and now kids can sing what was written by Seuss. So come take a dip in McElligot’s Pool, by singing this song with your choir at school.

Monster Mash arr. Greg Gilpin
Triadic harmonies and several spoken solos are perfect for younger groups in this fun novelty song. Compare dance moves with Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Dracula, and maybe add a few of your own!

Polly Wolly Doodle arr. Russell Robinson
Russ Robinson’s arrangement of this traditional American folk song is full of clapping and lighthearted interplay between the two-part voices. Accompanied by piano, this lively piece is sure to be a concert or festival favorite at anytime of the year.

Ribbons in the Sky by Andy Beck
This tasteful Native American-inspired piece celebrates the beauty of a rainbow. As the seven colors are revealed, use movement scarves or ribbon wands for added effect (instructions included in the publication). An optional recorder part adds to the multicultural character.

You Can Dance, You Can Sing by Mark Burrows
This high-energy composition based on a traditional Zimbabwean proverb will be a hit with both your singers and audiences. The lyrics are mostly in English with a few simple Zimbabwean words. Shaker, djembe, and hand drum add a vibrant texture that helps to establish the rhythmic groove.

For more exciting elementary choral resources, please contact us!

Is There Room in Your Heart for a King? 18 September, 2014

Prepare for Christmas with your church choir with one of these outstanding anthems, carefully selected by our experienced Sacred Choral Music staff:

Every Valley by Victor C. Johnson
Victor C. Johnson provides this strikingly beautiful setting for the familiar Advent text. The flowing accompaniment enhances the choral harmonies in a quiet celebration of the Child who will bring peace on earth.

Peace Will Come arr. David Schwoebel
Truly memorable for Christmas, this offering features a thoughtful text from Terry York that shares the message “Christmas comes when we hear the still, small Voice of God.” David Danner’s quietly powerful music moves from tender to soaring.

The Long-Awaited by Lee Dengler
This upbeat Advent offering captures the spirit of this blessed time of year with a light classical touch. The rhythmic energy of the accompaniment is reflected in the voices, creating a unique and refreshing piece.

Is There Room in Your Heart for a King? arr.Mark Hayes
Pamela Stewart’s unforgettable text about the search for the birthplace of God s Son challenges all believers to prepare room in their hearts for the King. Mark Hayes magically conveys the heartfelt poetic imagery in this evocative setting.

Born in Bethlehem arr. Mary McDonald
Mary McDonald and Jean Anne Shafferman partnered in this creative pairing of two well-loved spirituals featuring touches of blues, engaging interplay between vocal parts, and clever musical depictions, especially of the “magi from the East.”

Angels We Have Heard on High arr. Peter Anglea
A bright new arrangement of the traditional carol. Exciting rhythmic accompaniment introduces the lively first verse and chorus which contrasts with a quiet, contemplative second verse and chorus. The anthem ends with a strong, dynamic invitation to “come,” ”see” and “adore” the newborn King. A great piece for Christmas Eve.

By Candlelight by Ruth Elaine Schram
For the first time, this modern classic from Ruth Elaine Schram is now available in a new Two-Part mixed voicing. Accompany with the chamber orchestration or the sparkling InstruTrax accompaniment CD.

Cradle Carol arr. Victor C. Johnson
Victor C. Johnson s original melody beautifully blends with a beloved carol and classic lyrics by Christina Rossetti in this sensitive Christmas anthem. “Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, in the world His hands had made, Jesus, born on this day.”

For more quality suggestions for your church choir, click here to view our complete Sacred Choral promotion for Fall 2014, or contact us at 1.800.426.8742. Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!

Warm Up! 16 September, 2014

Warm Up! (20 Purpose Driven Etudes) by Gary Walth is a perfect set of warm-ups for the choral ensemble that’s designed to enhance and stimulate the growth of each member’s vocal and choral ability. Thinking of the warm-up as a “mini voice lesson,” you can reinforce concepts with consistent encouragement, criticism, problem-solving and praise. This practical volume will help the conductor provide purposeful leadership and develop artistry in each individual through exercises for breath support, open tone, flexibility, vowel uniformity, balance, intonation and much more. Each exercise includes a notated keyboard accompaniment with multiple modulations and professional recordings of a rhythm section and singers performing each drill on the enclosed CD.

For more valuable choral warm-up resources, click here to visit our website, or contact us!