I Could Count On Jerry
Let me tell you about Jerry (not his real name). Jerry enrolled in my choir class his senior year of high school back when I taught in public school. He had an amazing personality, dominated the basketball court as a star player, and after teaching him I can’t recall a time where he complained. See, he was in a beginning choir class where the men were outnumbered five to one. He had every chance to complain. But he didn’t.
The entire baritone section was comprised of (in addition to Jerry) recent immigrants from Myanmar who did not speak a syllable of English. These boys did come from a singing background and had great work ethics. With as much in the news and politics about immigration, my short and personal opinion is that we should welcome anyone who would like to live in this country as long as we have the same standards for them as we do for ourselves.
As much as I could try to explain that there was a concert coming up, my baritone section could not understand. In my first year of teaching I tried making a syllabus in Korean using the beta version of Google translate. God only knows what that syllabus actually said. I did not have the patience, time, or headspace to try to translate every language that was in my classroom. My beginning choir classes were dumping grounds for any transient student and eventually became the catalyst for my pursuit of a career in an independent school.
Well, when it came time for this particular choir to come on stage at the concert, I noticed that Jerry was the only male voice. So on this A Capella, three part harmony piece in Latin, instead of conducting, I joined the choir and sang with him. The crowd celebrated Jerry with a rousing ovation and about a week later, those students that missed the concert were never to be seen again. Forever vagabonds.
Here are the liner notes from my best selling work to date:
My first exposure to this piece came as an accompanist for vioin studios. “Chorus from Judas Maccabeus” is a well known tune in the Suzuki repertoire. In my first teaching position, I was looking for music on a very minimal budget and remembered this piece. After some research, I arranged this gem for my beginning Freshman Choir.
This arrangement of “Canticorum Jubilo” from Judas Maccabeus works well with a beginner group of middle school voices or early high school changing voice. Please feel free to adapt the notes to what works best for your group. I have provided some suggested optional notes. The Latin is not difficult and the opportunity to sing such rich harmonies in an A Cappella setting is a very fruitful endeavor for young singers.