One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is helping my students choose and prepare songs to perform, whether it be for a school concert, a talent show, or just for fun.
I've found that students tend to have very diverse music tastes, and their choices for performance pieces often reflect this. Some students might be drawn to more contemporary pop while others might prefer classic rock or folk music.
A huge draw for my students have been TikTok Trends. For example, I've had students and choir directors request to perform songs like "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac, "Dear John" by Taylor Swift, or the famous sea shanty, "The Wellerman". Performing TikTok trends can be a way for high school students to connect with their peers and feel like they are part of a larger community or culture.
Pop songs are a great way to engage your students due to familiarity. Many students are already familiar with popular songs, whether it be through the radio, streaming services, or social media. Singing a song that they already know and enjoy can be a fun and enjoyable experience for them. This arrangement of "The Way I Am" was written for a middle school choir, the harmonies were well executed and easy to sing!
In terms of technical difficulty, high school students are often capable of tackling more challenging pieces, so I often encourage them to push themselves and try something that might be a little outside of their comfort zone. This could be a more complex jazz standard, a classical piece, or even a musical theater number. The hymn below, "I'll Fly Away" was very popular choice for my students and enjoyed by so many in the audience!
Of course, it's important to balance the students' musical choices with the needs and goals of the choir or music group as a whole. However, giving students some autonomy in the music selection process can be a valuable and rewarding experience for everyone involved.
In conclusion all students tend to have a wide range of musical tastes and are drawn to songs that speak to their own experiences and emotions. One thing that seems to be a constant, however, is that many students are drawn to songs with meaningful lyrics that speak to their own experiences or emotions. Encouraging them to take on more challenging pieces and letting them choose music that they are passionate about can lead to truly memorable and exciting performances.
See below for more successful pieces that were a hit with my students!