Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Where to start when searching for Repertoire for Young Students

I wrote a post a while back about teaching the extremely young student. One of the comments I recently received asked about finding repertoire, and it inspired this post!

So, here are the books that I use most (and comments on what I feel are successful/not successful about them), in order of preference.  I’ve found that most young students don’t particularly connect with classical music, but often, when I start with these and a secure singing technique, I’m able to guide them into the Classical repertoire as they mature.

Disclosure: I am using here mostly links to www.SheetMusicPlus.com.  I am beginning to write for their blog (this post will be re-posted there).  I use these links instead of www.amazon.com links, where you can generally find these books at considerably lower prices, because they are sheet music specialists who will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.  Also, their song listings are complete for every book and very detailed, including visual samples of what the music inside the book looks like, so you can judge whether the book is what you’re looking for.  Their customer service is wonderful – they get back to you quickly in response to questions.  They also have an “Easy Rebates” program for teachers, schools and libraries that gives an 8% rebate on purchases you make, as well as any referrals you make (none of the links in this are rebate links for me).  They support and care about the private studio teacher, which is why I’m recommending them over low prices.

1.   The Judy Garland Souvenir Songbook: There are many beloved classics in this book, from “Over the Rainbow” (NOT as easy a song as Judy makes it sound) and “Singin’ in the Rain” to songs that have become favorites in my studio, such as “The Trolley Song” and “The Boy Next Door” (both from the movie Meet Me in St. Louis – which was when Judy met Vincent Minelli.  The result? Liza!).  This song has well-known jazz standards, but most are limited in range, in a generally comfortable range for the young singer, and often quite interesting musically.  They keep students’ interested and I frequently have my middle-school students purchase and sing from this book.  The $19.95 at www.SheetMusicPlus.com is worth it for the student.

2.   Singing in the Northland Volume 1 and Singing in the Northland Volume 2 by Martha Hill Duncan are two really beautiful set of pieces that are unusual, artistic, and really speak to students.  The melodic lines are limited, yet interesting.  Much of the musical interest comes from the piano part, but it does not detract from the vocal lines.  A favorite is “The Star” in Volume 1 – there are only 2 main patterns of pitches in this piece, outlining 2 separate 7th chords, but it is haunting in its simplicity.  All the songs sound much harder than they actually are, giving the student a huge sense of confidence, while challenging their musicality and performance skills.  “Lady Icicle” in Volume 2 is a playful piece about Lady Icicle playing in the Northland.  The melodic line is repetitive throughout – much of the contrast comes from the piano, but this piece is never boring or predictable.  “Severance” in Volume 2 is a haunting melody, speaking to loneliness and isolation.  I love how these volumes especially bring a sense of chill and cold to the warm Southwest where I am.  The students are enjoying exploring these sensations and how the music evokes the scenery.  Each complete volume is $25 (which comes with the rights to print two legal copies – one for you and one for your pianist).  Each single song is $3.50 (again with two copies).  50% of the purchase price also goes directly to the composer, so it helps the student to really know that by purchasing this music, they are directly contributing to the continuation of this composer’s ability to write more stunning music.  (I wrote about the publisher, Graphite Publishing, last month in my Copyright and the Private Studio Teacher post).

3.  I love Popular Solos for Young Singers, edited by Louise Lerch.  Songs from “Rubber Duckie” (which tickles even my adult students into letting go) and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” to “Close Every Door” and “Sing” (from Sesame Street), make this a book well worth having your students purchase.  It has a very nice collection of songs from the very old to the relatively new, and students can easily justify the $19.99 price by finding many songs they will enjoy.  An accompaniment CD for $12.95 is also available – although I cannot comment on its quality.  I make it a rule to never use an accompaniment CD, especially with a young singer whose breathing needs may not match the timing in the CD.

4.  The Disney Collection contains older Disney songs (“Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid is as new as it gets), but the arrangements contain verses not found in other books, and I have frequently used this book to get to songs that are harder to find.  $18.99 at www.SheetMusicPlus.com makes it something for you to have in your library, but students might find it a harder book to purchase, as it lacks the newest Disney songs.

5.   Kids’ Musical Theatre Collection – Volume 1 and Kids’ Musical Theatre Collection – Volume 2 are some welcome new additions to the genre of music aimed at children.  There are many Disney songs in the collections (“Feed the Birds,” “Reflection,” “The Work Song from Cinderella”), but also songs from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, High School Musical, Barnum, and Sesame Street (including my favorite, “Sing!” and the classic “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon”).  Each book is $24.99 (including CD) at www.SheetMusicPlus.com, but finding it without the CD will save you $10.

6.  Essential Movie Songs (from Hal Leonard): Songs such as “The Rainbow Connection,” “Somewhere out there,” “Heart and Soul” (yes, there IS a composer to this perennial piano favorite annoyance – it’s Hoagy Carmichael, with lyrics by Frank Loesser, and students love to be able to tell their friends that there are words, and that the melody most often played isn’t the one Hoagy composed), and “Shall we Dance” make this a book that I frequently reach for with beginners of all ages.  Some songs in here are ridiculous, the “Theme from Shaft” springs immediately to mind, but there are enough to make the $24.95 at www.SheetMusicPlus.com worth it.  Many of these songs are then available for single download at www.musicnotes.com, so the student does not need to purchase the entire volume, as they may not use a large number of the songs.

7.  The Illustrated Treasury of Disney Songs.  This book has some wonderful songs in it that I have in no other resource, including the complete version of “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” and “When I see an Elephant Fly.”  But, several of the songs have no piano introductions, are abruptly cut (“Part of Your World” has only 2 verses, and then the complete text is printed on the last page of the piece – this occurs in several places), or are lacking the verse of the song (refrain only).  So, this is a good companion to The Disney Collection (listed in number 4), but will frustrate you if it’s your only Disney source.  Available for $29.99 – 68 songs – at www.SheetMusicPlus.com.

Other books on my bookshelf that receive infrequent usage (due in large part to duplication of collections already listed) are:

Disney Solos for Kids ($19.95, including CD) – 10 songs

More Disney Solos for Kids ($19.99, including CD) – 10 songs

Still More Disney Solos for Kids ($19.99, including CD) – 10 songs.  This one is not on my shelf, but I thought I’d show the series as it stands now.

Songs for Kids – Auditions Songs ($14.99, including CD) – 9 songs

Solos for Kids edited by Louise Lerch ($19.99, including CD) – 11 songs

Kids’ Broadway Songbook – songs originally sung onstage by children, not just appropriate for children.  $14.95 without the CD, $24.99 with.

Kids’ Stage and Screen Songs ($19.99, including CD) – 10 songs

Teachers, what other resources do you use?  What is glaringly missing from my listing?  PLEASE add to the information!!  Thank you and Happy Singing!

About the Author

Rachel Velarde
I began my music career in Bloomington, Indiana. After receiving my B.A. in Music from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, I earned two Master of Music degrees at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Luminaries I have worked with include Vernon Hartman, James Caraher, Lorenzo Malfatti, Shirlee Emmons, Mary Sue Hyatt, John Sikora, David Jones, David Britton, and Carol Smith.

I offer ... [Read more]

4 Comments

  1. Marilyn Bohlen Simpson

    Since my 9-year-old private students are no longer receiving any music instruction in their California public school classrooms, I think it’s important that they learn a lot of American folk songs. My best resources for those are the Wee Sing books, including Wee Sing, Wee Sing and Play, Wee Sing Around the Campfire, and Wee Sing Silly Songs. I’m not sure they’re still in print, but they’re a wonderful, simple collection, and my little girls love them. I end up making my own recordings of them for them to practice with.

  2. Rachel Velarde

    Thanks Marilyn –
    This is a GREAT resource and they are definitely still in business. The WeeSing website is: http://www.weesing.com/homepageStill.htm.
    Thanks for pointing this out. The sillier the better, I ALWAYS say. 😀
    Have a great day & happy singing!
    Rachel

  3. Craig Tompkins

    Thanks Rachel for this great list! I would like to add both the Conservatory Canada “New Millenium Series” available from Mayfair Music http://www.mayfairmusic.com/ and the Royal Conservatory of Music “Songbook Series” available from Frederick Harris Music http://www.frederickharrismusic.com/FHMCsite/capricorn?para=showPage&docId=catListProd&section=CARESOURCES

    I like the preliminary level of RCM and Grade 1 of CC for youngsters just beginning. Lots of fun songs about animals (A Cookie for Snip, Monkeys, Butterflies, Polar Bear etc.) and other things kids like (Colours, Grandma & Grandpa, Snow etc.). The next levels of RCM contain too many foreign language songs for my liking, but still lots of fun English songs. CC continues with fewer songs not in English and there is very little overlap between the two series.

    Cheers,
    Craig

  4. Rachel Velarde

    Thank you, Craig, for adding to my list! The more information we have, the better. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Connecting with each other and sharing information/resources. I’ll check into the series you recommend.
    Rachel

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