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#1 Pond

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 10:09

I've been trying to find out what good songs there are that fit into the pre-1920 category (so excluding all the famous musicals). This is for a pre-teen girl grade 5 standard high voice. I am veering in the direction of something high from an Offenbach opera. Does this seem like a good idea, and does anyone have any other suggestions?

For the more recent section (post 1970?) I'm thinking about Quiet from Matilda. Do people think that this is hard enough for a grade 5 exam?
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#2 BitterSweet

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 12:16

QUOTE(Pond @ May 1 2013, 11:09 AM) View Post

I've been trying to find out what good songs there are that fit into the pre-1920 category (so excluding all the famous musicals). This is for a pre-teen girl grade 5 standard high voice. I am veering in the direction of something high from an Offenbach opera. Does this seem like a good idea, and does anyone have any other suggestions?

For the more recent section (post 1970?) I'm thinking about Quiet from Matilda. Do people think that this is hard enough for a grade 5 exam?


I take it this is for a Pond Junior?

Music Hall is a good choice. There's a great anthology called the "Bumper Book of Music Hall Songs" which has loads of early stuff.

Offenbach is going to be considered too hard for Grade 5. I wouldn't use Opera at all until at least 6, and even then with caution.

Have you looked at the syllabus? At the end of it, there's a great list with loads of songs in it and it should give you an idea of both what you can use and how difficult various songs are considered by the board.

I'll come back later and give you some more suggestions when I've had a chance to look at my musicals list.
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#3 Pond

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 12:32

Thank you. Yes, for 10 year old Pond junior, who has done no exams in musical theatre (or lessons) so far, but has been in several musicals, so has had loads of "on the job training". She also has a distinction in grade 5 singing ABRSM.

It's interesting that you wouldn't recommend Offenbach because it is too hard - does being harder than the grade (assuming you sing the song well) matter? I am thinking of The Sandman's song, which is grade 6 ABRSM and I think well within her capabilities and suits her voice. But admittedly not very musical like, if that is an issue.

I don't know whether anyone has a view on the Matilda song, as it is not yet on any lists.

I've had a look at the LCM syllabus list of suggestions, but songs pre 1920 are pretty thin on the ground, and of course have to suit the voice.
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#4 BitterSweet

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 15:40

fadedpages was going to submit The Sandman Song for Grade 7, and her programme as a whole was deemed "hard" by the examiner. She did change it, but the song she picked was actually easier. My current list for Grade 8 is madly difficult - declared a diploma list by my teacher (but I picked it, and I'm working at a DipABRSM level generally).

Bear in mind difficulty in MT exams is made up of two components - the technical nature of the song, and the emotional portrayal required. A song might be very simple to sing, but very difficult to act properly or vice versa.

If you're working from an AB background, I would add one to the AB level, and then consider if it needs another one adding for emotional content. The Sandman's Song is definitely a Grade 7+ song - it requires some very significant acting to really pull it off.

By all means, submit a more difficult programme, but I really want to emphasise that it's not at all necessary to go for hard for the sake of it!

If you really don't want music hall, why not try some light/comic opera like Edward German?

Oh, and also, remember that if your 10-y-o does Grade 5 now, she's going to have to go through 6, 7 and 8 very slowly because there is no way I could imagine a 12-y-o having the maturity to really act and engage with the complex and difficult emotions required to really succeed with the pieces required at the top levels (divorce, ###, death, abusive relationships, identity crisis, more ###).

I'm putting a 10-y-o in for Grade 4, and I've had no choice about that as she started at Grade 3. She won't be getting at Grade 5 for at least another year because she's just too young to really understand the adult emotions much of the Grades 6-8 stuff requires, and will be for a good few years yet.

I would actually say you'd be far better starting her at Grade 3, and progressing one a year or more slowly given her age, but I'm a bit "1950s" on that front.
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#5 Pond

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 16:12

That's interesting, thanks. I have nothing against music hall, and will look at the book you suggest - any specific song suggestions would be very welcome. I hadn't thought beyond grade 5, as she is taking more the ABRSM route for the moment, and I am thinking that this exam could be a one off change for her.

Does anyone have a view on the MT likely grade level for Quiet - I have absolutely no idea.
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#6 Maria

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 17:44

QUOTE(BitterSweet @ May 1 2013, 04:40 PM) View Post

fadedpages was going to submit The Sandman Song for Grade 7, and her programme as a whole was deemed "hard" by the examiner. She did change it, but the song she picked was actually easier. My current list for Grade 8 is madly difficult - declared a diploma list by my teacher (but I picked it, and I'm working at a DipABRSM level generally).



Would you mind sharing what's on your list Bittersweet? I'm hoping to get round to doing this at some point soon and would be interested in what sort of repertoire you're doing. Thanks. smile.gif
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#7 Seer_Green

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 20:30

QUOTE(Pond @ May 1 2013, 11:09 AM) View Post

I've been trying to find out what good songs there are that fit into the pre-1920 category (so excluding all the famous musicals). This is for a pre-teen girl grade 5 standard high voice.

For what it's worth, in my view (which I accept is not universally popular!), you need to consider a wide range of things when choosing songs for MT exams - when you say Grade 5, I assume you mean AB or equivalent? If so, then these are essentially 'classical' singing exams which, although there are similarities, are inevitably different to MT exams on a number of levels.

You need to be thinking about what are the candidate's strengths and weaknesses, both in terms of vocal ability and performance skills - what sort of things would suit the candidate's voice - simply because a song is 'high' and pre-1920, doesn't necessarily mean it's the right song for the candidate. You also need to think about how the songs will enable the candidate to meet the assessment criteria - if a song is essentially a 'stand in the middle of the stage and sing it with the odd hand gesture' type song, that's fine, but in that case, one of or both the other songs will need to offer more opportunity for use of space and perhaps more movement - in that respect, taking the programme as a whole is an important consideration. There's also the consideration of props and 'costume' too.

In theory, half the marks for the MT exams are for acting, and half for singing - OK, it's not as clear cut as that, but the candidate needs to be able to engage with the songs in a dramatic sense. I know not all teachers do this, but I also work on speech and drama skills with my MT candidates so that we have a clear basis for getting the best out of that side of the performance.

At that age, pre-1920 stuff is almost certainly going to be music hall type songs - there were a number around at the time which were specifically written for children to sing (poor little orphan type songs!). The list that LCM give in the syllabus is really just to give an idea of the types of things which have been used successfully previously - they do state you should search widely for suitable material. I had a girl do Grade 5 MT last term, and none of her three songs were on the LCM list (which I suspect was somewhat of a relief for the examiner!)

I suppose my inevitable question is what does the teacher suggest? ph34r.gif
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#8 Pond

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 22:14

Do you have any names of possible music hall songs that would work for a child with a treble type voice? I've had a look on Youtube, and there seem to be a lot of quite low, mature woman type songs.
The need for a balance in mood and movement occurred to me.
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#9 silverfoxx

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 23:26

QUOTE(Pond @ May 1 2013, 11:09 AM) View Post

I've been trying to find out what good songs there are that fit into the pre-1920 category


How about 'Just a Song At Twighlight' which was a music hall favourite?
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#10 BitterSweet

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:22

QUOTE(Maria @ May 1 2013, 06:44 PM) View Post

QUOTE(BitterSweet @ May 1 2013, 04:40 PM) View Post

fadedpages was going to submit The Sandman Song for Grade 7, and her programme as a whole was deemed "hard" by the examiner. She did change it, but the song she picked was actually easier. My current list for Grade 8 is madly difficult - declared a diploma list by my teacher (but I picked it, and I'm working at a DipABRSM level generally).



Would you mind sharing what's on your list Bittersweet? I'm hoping to get round to doing this at some point soon and would be interested in what sort of repertoire you're doing. Thanks. smile.gif


For reference, I'll give all my programmes:

Grade 5 - (Theme: Difficult choices)
I want to sing in opera
Miss Otis Regrets
There's a Fine, Fine Line (Avenue Q)

Grade 6 - (Theme: Love, Relationships)
On the day when I was wedded (The Gondoliers)
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (Pal Joey)
U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D. (Starlight Express)
I Will Be Loved Tonight (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change)

Grade 7 - (Theme: Challenging circumstances)
A Lady Fair of Lineage High [with some libretto] (Princess Ida)
Somewhere in France with You
A Trip to the Library [with some libretto] (She Loves Me)
The Wizard and I (Wicked)

Grade 8 - (Theme: Of mothers and daughters) [For the record, this programme has a range of two octaves and two tones...!!]
Ah My Child! [Ah Mon Fils] (Le Prophete, Meyerbeer)
Barbarasong (Threepenny Opera)
Rose's Turn [In full with libretto at start] (Gypsy)
Daddy's Girl (Grey Gardens)

My wee Grade 4 has a theme of "boys next door" and is doing:
The Boy Next Door (Meet me in St Louis)
Get Crackin' (a wartime song by George Formby)
What it means to be a friend (13)

The last one on that programme is probably a 4-6, the first to a 3-5, maybe?


I find that coming up with a connected theme helps to figure out repertoire, and it gives a ready made answer for the "how this programme was put together" question biggrin.gif
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#11 fadedpages

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 12:07

QUOTE(BitterSweet @ May 1 2013, 04:40 PM) View Post

fadedpages was going to submit The Sandman Song for Grade 7, and her programme as a whole was deemed "hard" by the examiner. She did change it, but the song she picked was actually easier.

SNIP


Easier for me, certainly - whether it was technically easier or not, I'm not sure. As BitterSweet said, I was originally doing the Sandman as my early song for grade 7, but changed it in the end to Lascia Ch'io Pianga. As far as the AB are concerned, Lascia is harder (it's on the grade 7 list, Sandman is on 6). As Seer_Green said, though, AB and LCM don't necessarily correlate for grade levels. It definitely depends on the candidate.

My full program was:
Theme: Imprisonment (it started off as Identity then kind of changed along the way)
Lascia Ch'io Pianga - Rinaldo (Handel)
Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye - Anything Goes (Porter)
I'm Going Back - Bells Are Ringing (Comden, Green & Styne)
Mr. Girl Hater - Daddy Long Legs (Gordon)

My exam was on Sunday, so I don't have my result yet, but the examiner did comment in my discussion on both the wide range of vocal styles and how refreshing it was to hear a program full of more unusual choices. And yes, that it was a challenging program (but then, if the time periods had been right my grade 6 program would have been perfectly acceptable for 7, so it's not the first time lol).

Since BitterSweet has done it too, I'll include my other programs in case anyone finds it useful for reference.

Grade 6:
Theme: Love, more specifically what people will do when driven by it
Che Faro Senza Euridice - Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck)
A Wonderful Guy - South Pacific (Rodgers & Hammerstein)
Christmas Lullaby - Songs For a New World (Brown)
Gimme Gimme - Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tesori & Scanlan)

Grade 5:
Theme: Unhealthy relationships
Jolly Good Luck to the Girl Who Loves a Soldier - Music Hall
Wonderful, Wonderful Day - Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (de Paul & Mercer)
I Know the Truth - Aida (John & Rice) [The examiner commented that she thought this was hard for grade 5, so they do notice.]

For each exam, I had a more staged performance piece (I'm Going Back, A Wonderful Guy, Jolly Good Luck ...) and a more reflective acting one (Goodbye, Little Dream, Christmas Lullaby, I Know the Truth).

I've just had a listen to Quiet, it sounds rhythmically tricky. It's probably acceptable for 5 but on the harder end, I'd say. Naughty from the same show would be a good performance option for grade 4-5ish, it's actually one I suggested to BitterSweet for her wee student. smile.gif

My Morning Promenade might be worth looking at for Music Hall. I could see it being played as a precocious child, and it avoids the more bawdy themes that wouldn't really be appropriate for a 10-year-old.
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#12 Splog

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 12:51

As long as a song doesn't contain inappropriate lyrics, or too much of an adult theme that they don't know how to put it across, there is no reason why it shouldn't be sung by a child. You can also sing a song in any key, so don't be put off by hearing a song sung by an older person in a lower key. Listen to some music hall and pick something you like.

Would she like Your baby has gone down the plughole? Or song I can't remember the name of, which is daft because I have sung it, about a man staring at a painting of his dead wife - you're only a beautiful painting, in a beautiful golden frame - or something...

Couple of suggestions. Not music hall but pre-1920 - Just a-wearying for you. By the light of the silvery moon.

Come Home Father is a song written for an 11 year old girl to sing, although it is very tragic.

Gosh I'm in a morbid mood today.... sad.gif
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#13 BitterSweet

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 13:56

QUOTE(Splog @ May 2 2013, 01:51 PM) View Post

As long as a song doesn't contain inappropriate lyrics, or too much of an adult theme that they don't know how to put it across, there is no reason why it shouldn't be sung by a child. You can also sing a song in any key, so don't be put off by hearing a song sung by an older person in a lower key. Listen to some music hall and pick something you like.


This goes extra for "standards" and music hall type songs which are often transposed when performed. I think I found the Barbarasong in a good half a dozen keys.

As the introduction of one of my music theatre books says the key is often dictated by the original performer of the role, and not the composer.
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#14 Pond

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 23:05

Thanks for the suggestions. I've had a listen to Father Come Home, and really like it (the 12 year old on Youtube who takes it seriously). I don't know what grade it would come under.
It's a bit of a blow to learn that you need to sing songs within a theme, or at least that it helps if you do. That makes choosing songs pretty complex.
Based on Father Come Home, I was wondering about a "coping with a difficult family" kind of theme, or just "young girls facing difficult times". Quiet would fit in with that, but you'd really need to have something more lively and cheerful for the middle song, and that's more difficult. You could maybe use Naughty from Matilda as the one lively song, but then I'm not sure what the third song might be. Perhaps Over the Rainbow? It's clear from the repertoire people have mentioned that there are a lot of musicals I've not come across, though I thought I was pretty musical literate.
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#15 BitterSweet

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:44

QUOTE(Pond @ May 3 2013, 12:05 AM) View Post

It's a bit of a blow to learn that you need to sing songs within a theme, or at least that it helps if you do. That makes choosing songs pretty complex.


There's no requirement to have a theme, but the candidate needs to explain how the programme was put together. An answer like, we found it hardest to pick an early song, and once we found X, we chose the other two songs to express contrasting styles and moods, would be equally as ok.

I like the theme thing, but then I find the song-choosing process really fun smile.gif

Sorry, I promise I will come back with a list of more ideas for you just as soon as I have time.
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