Choosing Quality Music for a New Children’s Choir Year

headshot_jeff-reeves
Jeff Reeves serves as Choral Music Editor with Hal Leonard Corporation in Milwaukee. In his role at Hal Leonard, Jeff serves as the primary editor for the Henry Leck Choral Series, Discovery Choral Series, and the Shawnee Press sacred choral catalog for children, Worship Songs Junior. Jeff also serves as the Director of Children’s Music Ministries at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa. In this position, Jeff coordinates and directs choral and handbell choirs for children in pre-kindergarten through 6th grade. Since 1990, Jeff has specialized in the field of church music for children. His work in both the music publishing industry and the local church has given him the unique opportunity to understand the needs of children’s choirs within the larger ecumenical community. He is the author of numerous publications including children’s music curriculum materials, teaching articles, as well as choral and handbell works for children of all ages. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master’s of Church Music degree from Southern Theological Seminary. He lives in Brookfield with his husband, John, who is Minister of Music & Organist at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Wauwatosa. Together, Jeff and John enjoy spending time with family and friends, playing with their delightful dog, Dolly, and traveling to warm weather destinations.

One of the great joys of music ministry is nurturing the spiritual and musical gifts of children. To help them develop these gifts, directors and teachers need exceptional, age-appropriate resources that provide the foundation for learning and success.

Zoltan Kodály once said, “Only the best is good enough for a child.” This truth sets a standard of excellence by which we as children’s choir directors should approach repertoire selection. Always remember: the music we select today will stay with our children for a lifetime.

With a new choir year fast approaching, it’s time to start planning repertoire! Here are some KEYS to consider for selecting excellent children’s choir music:

TEXT, the foundation for selecting songs…

  • Is it age-appropriate?
  • Is it theologically age-appropriate?
  • Is it meaningful to children?
  • Does it use concrete language rather than abstract language (symbolism)?
  • Does it include repetition of phrases & words?
  • Does it use inclusive language?
  • Is it quality poetry or prose?

MELODY…

  • Is it memorable and engaging?
  • Does it move by step and natural skips?
  • Is the range age-appropriate?
  • Does the “line” move well – up and down?
  • Is any part of the melody awkward?

STYLE…

  • Is it age-appropriate?
  • Is it possible to sing expressively?
  • Does it fit the worship style in your church?
  • Are the text and music well matched?

ACCOMPANIMENT…

  • Does it support the melody?
  • Is the texture overpowering?
  • Does it “play” well?
  • Is it interesting?

Editor’s Note: These outstanding choral anthems and resources are perfect for use at the beginning of a new choir season! Click our Scoreplay links below and “Look and Listen” to your selections

For YOUNGER CHILDREN (grades K-3)

includes: Jesus In the Morning; This Little Light of Mine; Loving My  Neighbor; Give Thanks

For OLDER ELEMENTARY (grades 3-6)

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