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Choosing Songs For an Elementary School Christmas Musical

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 11/18/2012

Now that we have begun to plan for a musical or play, at Christmas or any time, the next step in the process is to make song selections that the students will perform in the musical. What factors should an elementary teacher consider when making a song selection for the children to perform?

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    Choosing the Songs

    This is a continuation of a series to assist a classroom elementary school teacher who lacks musical experience to successfully produce a musical performance or classroom play. This could be at Christmas or you can use these tips for plays at any time of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer school year.

    I will continue to use the example of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer by Burl Ives for the duration of the series, as it's a Christmas musical that my class performed. That makes it a handy reference for examples, but any compact disc can be substituted.

    I chose the song on the CD, We are Santa's Elves to teach to my class for the musical. We also used many songs from the CD, because the musical performance was shared among six classes. Meaning, that we used six songs from the CD for the musical performance, as each class chose one song to perform. Sharing a musical performance among grade levels K through 2 is the easiest way to manage a musical or play. It can certainly be done among one or two classes with success as well, it just takes more planning and more practice.

    In the previous lesson, we chose the Compact Disc for the musical or play and delegated responsibility. In this lesson we make a song selection (or more if necessary) for the class to learn.

    Selecting Songs for the Musical or Play:

    Choosing songs is really a matter of personal preference. The song should be one that, obviously, you enjoy--but also one that you can readily learn if you do not already know it. Listen to the songs again and again and practice them yourself prior to teaching them to the class. This will give you confidence when teaching.

    Choose one that can be easily learned by the students at the grade level that you teach. For example, the song should have simple Play Box language for a PreKindergarten or Kindergarten class. This may sound like simple advice, but it can be tricky to teach students a song that does not have relevance to them (or you), or that has complicated verses.

    In the long run, the children will likely confuse the words and parts if they are too complicated for the grade level. Choose words that are simple and repetitive. For the Burl Ives example, you would not want to choose, "There's Always Tomorrow" or "Silver and Gold" as an option (although they are two beautiful songs).

    Choose a song that can be used as a shared reading text in the classroom.

    Consider the season of the year that the play or musical is being held and/or the reason for the musical. For example, you may be assigned a holiday such as Christmas or a season such as Autumn for which to create a performance, and this will guide your song selection.