Selecting Choir Songs for Concert Programs

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The Choir Song Selection Process

When creating concert programs, you want to make sure there are a variety of song selections that will keep the audience’s attention. You want to create various moods that suit all types of listeners while providing an enjoyable experience for your singers as well.

Here is an example list of the various choir song genres that could be included in a concert program:

  1. A Grand Entrance- The first selection should be an absolute attention-grabber. Using a fun and energetic piece that has a big sound and can impress the audience is key to starting off the concert right. First impressions mean a lot to an audience and will play a key role in your chorus’ success. Motion or action songs (clapping, stomping, sign language, etc) are great songs to use here. Audiences tend to remember the first and last piece of your program the most, so in order to get them intrigued and wanting to come back for more go with a strong piece first.
  2. Mellow Out- For the next piece, you will want something more mellow-slow and soft that portrays much emotion. This will show the more relaxed and emotional side to your chorus and will captivate the audience’s interest. A romantic type piece that will feature the dynamic range of your group is great to insert here. This is also a place where you may want to use soft sign language, lyrics in a foreign language, or even featured soloists as well. Try to use something that is warm, rich and inviting but not too long and dragged out. Let’s say…short, sweet and to the point.
  3. The Long Hull- Here you will want to choose a piece that is a bit longer in nature but will tell a story. This is usually where I insert a movement type piece or one that features various soloists. This is often the piece that your audience tends to forget the details of, so if you have a weaker piece that you feel isn’t quite up to par, this is where to use it. (AThis is a little secret in the world of performance.)
  4. Silly and Unique-This is the perfect spot for a unique song that really doesn’t apply to any category. It is another place to showcase your chorus’ vocal talents and uniformity. Perhaps you would use an a cappella (song without instrumental accompaniment) song here or one that requires part-singing and good listening skills. Silly songs that require props (hats, flags, etc.) as well as canons are great to use at this time as an audience pick-me-up and a chorus re-energizer. You want a song that is the prelude to the big finale. Wake them up!
  5. The Grand Finale- A great way to end your concert is with your strongest piece and the one that has the greatest sound. It should tie in all the features that your chorus has worked on such as dynamics, unison singing or part-singing, synchronized movements, range, and emotional output. This is it, your last chance to make a final impression on your audience and one that could make your chorus a success in our school, district and community. Go big or broke here and give it all you got!

There is no specified length for a concert program, but I have found in the past it is better to keep the performance under an hour so your audience will not get too “antsy”. Adding song selections is entirely up to the conductor of course.

Developing your concert program can be an easy task as long as you have a clear picture of the styles and genres of choir songs you want to perform. Just remember, as long as your singers are having fun your audience will have fun too!

This post is part of the series: Beginning An Elementary Chorus

If you are a new Vocal Music teacher or have recently switched to teaching Vocal Music, this series will give you information on how to establish and maintain a Chorus. The articles discuss using good communication skills, preparation tactics, rehearsal techniques, and equipment setup.

  1. Beginning a Children’s Chorus at School: Classroom Teacher Communication
  2. Parent Teacher Communication Ideas for Beginning Chorus-Signing the Music Performance Contract
  3. Beginning an Elementary Chorus: Choir Warmups
  4. Rehearsal Techniques When Starting an Elementary Choir
  5. Building Your Music Repertoire for a Children’s Choir
  6. Creating the Concert Program and Choir Song Selection
  7. Suggestions for Stage Presence and Choral Concert Dress
  8. The Equipment Needed for Successful Choral Concerts: Choral Risers and More!