reading session

2017 Reading Session Picks: Ensemble

2017 Reading Session Picks: Ensemble

When I have the opportunity to sit in on reading sessions, I’m keeping an eye out for any good anthem - whatever the voicing might be. If it has good text, is well-crafted musically and artistically, and is versatile enough to be used more than one Sunday out of the year, I make a note of it.

Everyone has their own rating system for this - some use a check-plus, check, check-minus system, others use smiley faces (with teeth, without teeth, indifferent, sad). To each their own, right?

Anyway, once I get back home with the anthems I saved, I divide them up into piles for easy list-making and cataloging later: Adult Choir, Youth, Children’s Choir, and Ensemble.

I’ve already shared my lists for adult choir and children’s choir; today, I’m sharing a few pieces I think would work well for an adult or youth ensemble. Enjoy!

2017 Reading Session Picks: Children's Choir

2017 Reading Session Picks: Children's Choir

Last week, I shared my top 12 reading session picks for adult choir; today, I'm sharing my favorites from this year’s Choristers' Guild reading session - lots of good music to consider for your choir this year!

Some of these anthems are new this year; others have been around for a while, but are worth considering, if you don't already have them in your library. I especially loved the ones that include optional rhythm or choir chime parts, as this is a great way to get more children involved and incorporate another dimension of music-making into your rehearsals.

Even if the anthem doesn't call for it, this is a relatively easy way to tailor a piece to your group and resources. Pull out part of the piano accompaniment (the bass line or perhaps the notes that fall on downbeats in the melody line) and add bells or chimes. Create a simple rhythmic ostinato pattern to accompany one of the verses, or give a few children triangles or finger cymbals to play during an interlude. Be creative!

2017 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

2017 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

Happy 4th of July week, friends!

I hate to break it to you, but did you know there are only 21 Sundays until the First Sunday of Advent?! I know. It’s true.

If you’re like me, summer is a time of rest and relaxation, but also a time of planning and getting ready for the new church/choir year. I just got back from a wonderful week in North Carolina for the United Methodist Fellowship’s Music and Worship Arts Week. It was a busy few days of worship, rehearsals, seminars, reading sessions, and concerts - so much new music and teaching ideas to soak up!

Eric Nelson was the clinician for the adult choir this year and I loved observing him in rehearsal, watching him conduct, and gleaning his wisdom. One thing he said that really resonated with me was this:

“Our congregations don’t need to be reminded about the brokenness in the world. Instead, we need to remind them, as much as possible, about the beauty and harmony that are possible in the community of Christ.”

I love that.

2016 Reading Session Picks: Youth Choir

2016 Reading Session Picks: Youth Choir

Last week at Music and Worship Arts Week, I joined numerous others (choir directors, singers, organists, etc.) at a series of choral reading sessions.

When I look for youth choir anthems, I look for relevant, meaningful text and beautiful, well-crafted music (here's an inside look at my process). I look for anthems that will inspire and encourage adolescent singers and connect with their faith.

Several publishers (Hope, Alfred, Beckenhorst, GIA, Hinshaw, Lorenz, etc.) were on-site to present the newest offerings from their catalogs and the choral clinicians for the week presented their own reading sessions of their favorite works.

As such, today's post includes a mix of old and new, classic and modern, traditional and more contemporary anthems. (See my reading session picks for adult choir here.) There's also a mix of voicings - everything from unison/2-part up to SATB, depending on the number of voices you have and the level of your group.

I hope you find something meaningful to and accessible for your choir

2016 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

2016 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

It's always a joy to return to the beautiful Lake Junaluska, nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western NC.

I've been attending Music and Worship Arts Week off and on since high school and I have so many memories of chilly morning walks to worship in Stuart Auditorium, evening concerts by the Junaluska Singers, simply suppers at the Allgood House, and stopping to admire the roses along the Rose Walk.

In case you haven't been, the week-long conference includes daily morning worship, several performance tracks for people of all ages and abilities (choir, handbells, dance, instrumental ensembles, and drama), a variety of helpful seminars and reading sessions, and evening concerts.

Like last year, I thought I'd share my reading session picks. Here are my favorite new adult choir anthems - hot off the press!

2015 Reading Session Picks

2015 Reading Session Picks

We had a great time at Lake Junaluska a few weeks ago for Music and Worship Arts Week! One of my favorite things about this conference is all the music we get to hear, read, and sing through, from choir performances to reading sessions to combing the pop-up music store.

Like last year, I thought it might be fun (and helpful!) to share a few of my favorite new finds from this year's reading sessions. Some of these are new titles, others are just new to me, but regardless, if you haven't heard these pieces, you're in for a real treat! SD and I are pretty careful with what we choose to keep and leave behind, and these are our favorites of the stack we brought home with us.


2014 Reading Session Picks: Children's Choir

Ashley Danyew | 2014 Favorite Anthems for Children's Choir

Last week, I shared some of my favorite (new!) anthems for adult choir. Today, I'm sharing my reading session picks for children's choir!

2014 Reading Session Picks: Children's Choir

Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you decide to purchase through any of them, I will earn a small commission. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue creating free content. Thank you for your support!

Guide Us, Lord (Mark Patterson)
Unison/two-part Choir with Piano and optional Viola

The text for this anthem is the well-known Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester. Wonderful, reflective piece - would be great for Lent.

Sing for Joy, Sing Together (Mark Patterson)
Unison/two-part Choir with Piano and optional Flute and Finger Cymbals

Fun! Great song of praise for young singers any time of the year.

How Far Is It to Bethlehem? (arr. David Music)
Unison Choir with Piano

Beautiful setting of this lovely tune, interwoven with "Away in a Manger."

I See You, God (Mark Burrows)
Unison/two-part Choir with Piano

Great text and lovely melody - "Who says you're invisible? I see you all around..." Perfect for young, inquisitive choristers!

What Child Is This? (arr. Melissa Malvar-Keylock and Jill Friedersdorf)
Unison, two-part, or three-part Choir with Piano

Simple, but beautiful setting of this classic carol.

What are your favorite children's choir anthems?

2014 Reading Session Picks: Adult Choir

2014 Reading Session Picks - Adult Choir.png

It's July 9, which can only mean one thing - it's time to start listening to Christmas music! As a church musician, I do a lot of planning in the summer, especially for Advent and Christmas. We attended a number of reading sessions at Lake Junaluska a few weeks ago and came home with a stack of our favorites.

Here are my top 5 (new!) anthems for adult choir:

Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing (Elaine Hagenberg) SATB Choir with some divisi with Piano

Lovely text and gorgeous setting by a new name in church music - Elaine Hagenberg.

The Work of Christmas (Dan Forrest) SATB Choir with some divisi, a cappella

Beautiful text by Howard Thurman and lovely setting by Dan Forrest. Great for the Sunday after Christmas or during Epiphany.

Pilgrim Song (arr. Lloyd Larson) SATB Choir with optional Flute

The adult choir at the Lake did an arrangement of this American folk hymn that was gorgeous but beyond the capabilities of most church choirs. Looking for something a little simpler? Here is a very nice, accessible arrangement by Lloyd Larson.

The Wexford Carol (arr. Howard Helvey) SATB Choir with Piano

This is a great setting of a classic, beloved carol. I love Howard Helvey's arrangements! Check out his arrangement of Ride on King Jesus, if you don't know it.

Thou Who Wast Rich (arr. Molly Ijames) SATB Choir with Piano

A lovely setting of a lesser-known Christmas carol, with text by Frank Houghton (based on 2 Corinthians 8). Beautiful!

Would you use any of these anthems with your choir? Which one is your favorite?

*This post includes affiliate links, which means if you purchase through some of the links above, Sheet Music Plus will pay me a small fee for referring you to them at no extra cost to you. Win-win!

Next up: my favorite new anthems for children's choirs!