Saturday, December 31, 2022

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets: TTB Voicing


TTB is considered a middle school voicing, given that there are generally more tenor-range singers in middle school whose voices are changing at various times. Some of their voicers actually "settle" in high school. 

General Ranges for TTB:

Tenor I: F below Middle "C" to an "A" above (possibly a B-Flat)

Tenor II: D below Middle "C" to D above.

Bass: B-Flat (8va + Step below Middle "C") to Middle "C"

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets are available on J. W. Pepper for 250+ publications from Earlene Rentz Online Publications, and most of them have 2-3 pages that can be used to prepare students to sing Earlene Rentz compositions in your classroom. The RPS sheets are written using Successive Approximations (simple to complex), and students will be guided into easily performing new intervals, rhythms, and harmonies via concepts they already know. 

The Rehearsal Preparation Sheets will appear as such at the bottom of each octavo's webpage.

Here are some examples of TTB Voicings in an RPS, with brief explanations:

Example 1 - Students sing the F Major Scale before repertoire specifics are addressed. The first motive is taught "straight" (Meas. 3) before adding the dotted 8th/16th (Meas. 4). The assumption is made that this rhythm had been learned previously (maybe...maybe prepared to teach it). Additional motives are taught without rests/dotted notes (Meas. 8-9).

Example 2 - Basses sing the melody as it appears in the octavo, but the harmony parts (Tenor I/II) are in longer durations); vertical harmonies can then be heard more clearly.


Example 1 - Because younger voices (TI/II) are singing in harmony, and the ability to perform harmony (any type) is one of the most difficult, harmonies are augmented to allow the ears of changing voices  time to adjust. 

Example 2 - Melodies and harmonies are presented to look much more like the octavo. Rhythms and syncopation are basically being taught at the same time. First, the rhythms are presented "straight" (quarters/8ths), then ties are added to create syncopation.


As you can see, this RPS is only one page. There are more examples in the complete RPS to make students more secure with the octavo. Anything detected in the octavo that might be trouble for the singer is addressed in the RPS.

All the best to you as you utilize these resources with your singers! Share with a friend "in the business," if you think they might be helpful to others in your life. They have been effective for my singers, and I'll always use them in my rehearsals.

Happy 2023!!

Friday, December 30, 2022

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets: SSA Voicing


SSA voicings are really fun to create! Treble voices have possibilities of singing all three voice parts in unison, which brings real strength to a composition. I love working with SSA compositions. I also love writing Rehearsal Preparation Sheets for SSA. For example, if all voices are going to be singing the melody at some point, or might benefit in some way, I would likely have all the voices singing in unison. I truly enjoy that aspect of SSA choral writing. Unison is a powerful tool, and can be used creatively in conveying the text.

Below, there are four SSA Rehearsal Preparation Sheet examples with different styles and difficulty levels. As you know, SSA voicings are written for younger voices (middle school) and professional ensembles. So...there are unique possibilities for SSA voicings, when creating Rehearsal Preparation Sheets.

We will look at a few RPS examples, so you can get an idea of the product you are purchasing (found at the bottom of the voicing list on a Pepper page.).

You will find below a jazzy, fun holiday setting of Wanetta Hill's lyrics, entitled Swingin' and Jinglin' Given the title, you won't be surprised to know that syncopation is contained, and you might wonder as to how it might be taught. 

Quite simply, I begin the process with whatever most students know, and move toward the thing(s) they do not know. The maturity and competence of the students determine how long we stay with the simple and how quickly we proceed to the more complex

Let's take a look at this example for high school and beyond. Note: the measure references.

Example 1 - This seven-measure example is in unison. We begin with the E-flat Major Scale, then sing a triad in the scale; we also establish the V/I relationship before students sing one altered pitch! ONE altered pitch usually does not frighten singers. 

Example 2 - The introduction! Harmony is introduced by singing thirds. This interval is easily sung, and it is introduced with quarter notes. Because there are several altered pitches, quarter notes give us a bit longer to think. Then, new concepts are introduced: 8th rest, ties, skips, altered pitches, text, and staccato style....usually one-at-a-time

Example 3 - The verse begins in this example with a repeated drill, using a lowered third (G-flat) and the B-flat below Middle "C". Both are important notes in the melody. Then, the 8th rest is added (only one). Syncopation is achieved by using a tie.

Example 4 - The second phrase is taught similarly: Quarter notes, add the 8ths, add ties to create syncopation. Notice that the altered pitch (A natural) is always approached from one-half step above. I repeat the passage until the altered pitch is likely "in the ear."


Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella is a holiday octavo for upper middle school, high school, and beyond.

Example 1 - Tempo: The 8th note gets the beat, and the tempo range is wide. Begin rather slowly, then increase the tempo gradually. Eventually, sing with the dotted quarter receiving the pulse. The altos  have I/V and step-wise movement. Soprano I/II move in 8th notes, and use step-wise motion to find the harmonies. 

Example 2 - This arrangement simulates "hurrying and running to the manger." Many arrangements of this carol are moderate, legato, and lovely, but I wanted to create urgency, and I used 16th notes to achieve that mood. There is the movement of I/V in this connecting material. It appears in the octavo a few times.

Example 3 - This example is a more solid presentation of the melodies and harmonies contained in the octavo, and concentrates on tuning. Sing two beats per measure (two dotted quarters), and see how it goes.

There are more RPS pages for "Bring a Torch." See this title on J. W. Pepper's website.


For Unto Us a Child is Born might be a similar difficulty level as the above example, but it is universally familiar because of Messiah. Some already have it "in the ear." As you know, there is much to be taught in the music of Handel. In this arrangement, the voice parts and accompaniment have been simplified. 

Example 1 - Teaches the first phrase by concentrating on scale degrees 1, 4, and 5.

Example 2 - Singers use steps to find the "D;" then use step-wise motion and scalar patterns to learn the motive "Unto us a Son is given."

Example 3 - The harmony of "Unto us a Son is given" is the focus. Once the melody is secure, the singers should concentrate on the vertical presentation. The examples move into "and the government shall be upon his shoulder." I am assuming that singers know how to sing dotted 8ths and 16ths. If not, be prepared to address it. 


The following art song by Robert Schumann ("Die Lotosblume") has been arranged for SSA advanced choirs. The text is German, and a pronunciation guide is provided. 

Example 1 - Because this arrangement will likely be sung by an advanced choir,  harmony is introduced rather quickly (measures 4-5). Step-wise motion is used to find the correct pitches in harmonies (measure 3).

Example 2 - Singers are in harmony through most of this example. Half note durations give singers time to hear the altered pitches and vertical alignment. 


 When you purchase an RPS from J. W. Pepper ($5.00), the purchaser is granted permission to make multiple copies for their choir. 

At this point, you have an idea as to the type of Rehearsal Preparation Sheet that has been created for every Earlene Rentz Online Publications octavo appearing on the J. W. Pepper website. Share with a friend "in the business," if you think these resources might be helpful.

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets are effective. I have used them for years in regular choir rehearsals. I encourage you to give them a try to see if they might be effective for your ensembles. 

All the best to you and your students! 

Happy 2023!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets: TB Voicing

Earlene Rentz

In this post-pandemic choral world, there seems to be a greater need for TB music in tenor/bass voicings. This makes sense to me. Students lost huge amounts of time in the classroom during the pandemic when "the changing voice" was changing at home! Those days will never be back for singers whose voices changed while they Zoomed! The TB voicing provides a limited texture that allows choral/musical concepts to be taught with more on a voice part, and those changed voices can hear where their voice fits in the new texture.

I do not believe there are "short cuts" in choral/vocal  training. Addressing the changing voice in Tenor/Bass choirs is work that must be done, and it benefits everyone in the long-run. So, composers for younger TB choirs write with the changing voice in mind. Yes...older TB choirs sing this voicing as well, but...say....the basses might not get to sing down as low as they would like. When writing for TB choirs, we must be sensitive to "the extremes" in ranges for both voice parts.

There are some general rules for TB that apply regarding range and difficulty:

Range: Tenor I does not sing below the "F" below Middle "C".....Bass does not sing higher than the "D" above Middle "C," and does not sing lower than the "C" below. 

These are general ranges. There might be a situation where these ranges are violated briefly, but the important issue would be "For how long?" Hopefully, it is a brief violation.

Difficulty: I often use step-wise motion and I/V harmonies in creating RPS materials for TB. Young tenor/bass voices can hear those intervals and perform them consistently. Wide skips give TB choirs have a greater challenge. At times I must "leave" the rigidity described, but I try to keep those two factors foremost in the mind. I do not want the RPS to get bogged down, such that students are "punished," but a little drill doesn't helps in the long-run. Get it "in the ear and in the voice!"

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets are available on J. W. Pepper for 250+ publications from Earlene Rentz Online Publications, and most of them have 2-3 pages...all written to prepare students to sing Earlene Rentz compositions. They can also be used for general sightreading practice. The RPS sheets are written using Successive Approximations (simple to complex), and students will be guided into new intervals, rhythms, and harmonies via information they already know. 

RPS sheets will appear on the Pepper pages as shown below (usually at the bottom of the voicing list): 

Personent Hodie is in the key of e-minor, so before you begin this RPS, sing the e-minor scale a few times and drill with various intervals, always aware of the tonic. 

Example 1 - Comprised of step-wise motion and drills with i/v in the key of e-minor. Because the 6th is raised (C#), measures 8-11 provide some drill in finding the C# from steps and skips.

Example 2 - Voices move in thirds in several passages in the octavo, so this example provides practice in doing so. While the Bass part has the melody in Measures 6-10, the Tenor finds a compatible interval above to create harmony with the melody. Most of these harmonies have repeated notes that give a secure foundation to the melody.


Example 1 - Step-wise motion leads to finding the altered pitches via longer durations (half notes). Later they are presented in the final rhythm found in the repertoire.

Example 2 - We are creating syncopation in this example. The first time the pattern is introduced, it consists of quarters and 8ths. The tie is added next. One of the 8th notes is then replaced with a rest, and the tie remains (Measure 3). The pitches in rhythm are the same as those sung as half notes in Example 1. The goal: Students will transfer their learning into Measure 6. If not, sing Example 1 again, emphasizing transfer


Example 1 - Quarters, 8ths, halves, and a couple of quarter rests are no problem. I do not teach the syncopated Measures (8-10) without the ties, because the note would be repeated and sound awkward. The tie is presented in Measures 8-10. "Fingers crossed" that they sing it correctly.

Example 2 - In Measures 1 and 2, the only possible problem is Do to Sol. You might need to drill a triad (Do, Mi, Sol). Re to Fa are important as well (Measures 5, 6, and 9), and students will need all of this information for the melody. Measures 3 and 5 teach syncopation, using ties. Take a look at the difference between Measures 8 and 10 (the 8th rest continues to be used). Measure 13 (we must hear silence in those 8th rests) is really important; the altered pitch in Measure 13 creates a "gospel" sound within the melody. 


Hopefully, your Tenor/Bass ensemble will sing with greater understanding because of their achievement with Rehearsal Preparation Sheets. I hope these resources will save time for you and your students as they become skilled, mature musicians. 

Many thanks!


Monday, December 26, 2022

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets: 3-Part Mixed Voicings

I loved teaching in middle school! There was an energy about the students who were in a new setting after their years in elementary school. Middle school students are in "search mode," searching for success...searching for "their group,"...searching to "be somebody." Middle school students are fragile, and for that reason, I see my work with middle school voices as some of the most important work I've ever done. 

It is ironic that during such fragile times in their personal lives, "the voice" they possess is also fragile, transitioning into something else...and that something else causes insecurity, embarrassment, lack of courage, and total inconvenience. Middle school students don't know where that "something else" is headed! We hear stories of students who just stopped singing during this fragile time of physical development. As you know, the male voice in middle school is the voice of greater change, but the female voice is also changing. 

One popular voicing to accommodate such vocal change is the 3-Part Mixed voicing. Some individuals want to know how it differs from the SAB and other mixed voicings. The "rules" for 3-Part Mixed: Part I is Middle "C" to "F" (top line...treble clef); Part II is B-flat (below Middle "C") to "C" (third space...treble clef); and Part III is from the "F" below Middle "C" to the "D" above Middle "C" (six notes...bass clef). Therein lies the challenge of writing 3-Part Mixed choral music. Part III is limited to six notes.

I am explaining Rehearsal Preparation Sheets found on J. W. Pepper's website, because after the last promotion, someone wrote to ask if I had any RPS sheets for middle school. If the octavo is on the website, published by Earlene Rentz Online Publications, and is appropriate for the middle school level, "Yes!" RPS accompanies it!

RPS materials are available for 250+ publications, and most of them have 2-3 pages, so my estimation is that there are 800 pages of materials that may be used to prepare students to sing Earlene Rentz compositions in your classroom. Many of them can be sung in middle school choirs. The RPS sheets are written using Successive Approximations (Simple to Complex), and students are guided into performing new intervals, rhythms, and harmonies via concepts they already know. 

Let's look at a few, so you can get an idea as to the appearance and usefulness of the RPS.  These sheets appear on the Pepper pages as shown below (usually at the bottom of the list): 

Take a look at the examples below to see the techniques employed for learning pitches, rhythms, and harmonies. You might want to create your own Rehearsal Preparation Sheets, but be prepared to carve out a few hours, until you get a little practice. I love the process, and it saves time in the long-run. I rarely had enough time to teach everything I wanted to teach.

Let's look at Kibo (Japanese words/pronunciation guide provided):

Example 1 - This example was created to establish a melody for Parts I and II, and a I/V relationship for Part III. Simple durations are chosen for this initial example. The lower part will be rather simple, given the challenges of the changing voice. Measure number references are provided.

Example 2 - Eighth notes are added to the quarter notes. Part III only goes down to the "A," so students will sing those three notes. Part III also has 8th notes and quarters. In measure 12, I write the dotted quarter and 8th with a tie, then use the dotted quarter in the next measure. Students will hear the duration before adding new notation. Measures 14-15 have new melodic material. Quarter notes are used to help find new pitches and harmonies (longer durations), then I add 8th notes (measures 17-18). 

Example 3 - This is only a portion of the entire example, but it is a good example of the "simple to complex" process. Students find their pitches via the C Major Scale. Both the melody and the harmony are determined using concepts they know already (quarters, 8ths, steps). With every repetition, the rhythms and melody become more complex, as harmonies remain the same.


I loved setting the Robert Frost poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. It was interesting to research this popular poem to see all the angles and interpretations of the text.

As you can see, we begin with Page 2 of the RPS, which means that some of the material has already been taught. The range was violated for Part III. I took Part III down to the E below Middle "C." Why? I was confident of the melody I created, and if I took everything up a half-step to D-flat (5 flats), the key would have been difficult for many accompanists (I was an accompanist in middle school, so I am sensitive to that issue). If I selected "D Major," Part III would have been hanging out on "D" above the staff for too long, and there is yet a modulation to come. I had to make a choice. Sometimes I call this voicing "Extended 3-Part Mixed." I just really need that "E!"

Example 3 - We begin with Measure 18 in the octavo. There is a descending line in Part III, and if the "C" can be found, there is no issue. So....I drill Part III a bit to secure the "C." First, I use steps, then I'm hoping that the mind's ear can remember that "C." There are a few small skips in Part III. Work to hear the "C!" 

For Part II, if they can remember the sound of Middle "C" to G to "C" (3rd space), they will be fine. I suggest using a warm-up that includes those three notes, to get the I-V-high tonic sound in their ears.

Part I is probably the easiest of the parts. Again, a warm-up that uses Do to high Do would benefit Part I. There is an altered pitch in Part I, approached from a half-step above...easy. 

Example 4 - Measure 1 begins with longer durations, and uses an altered pitch. Hopefully, singers will transfer the altered pitch concept from Example 3. In Measure 4, they have step-wise 8th notes, so no problem. Shorter durations for skips might be "too much, too soon."


The last example is The Gift to Sing. The text is by James Weldon Johnson (Blog Post - March 16), and I love the joy it conveys. 

This octavo is filled with syncopation, taught as simply as possible. Of course, it contains misplaced accents, but syncopation is energetic and appealing. Students will love the jazzy sound. They need an easy way to execute it, so that it makes sense

Example 1 - Parts I and II are in unison; Part III is the same melody an octave below, and rhythms are identical.  Everyone moves together in steps toward the highest and lowest pitches. There is one triad (Do, Mi, Sol - F, A, C). The concepts included are as follows: Quarter note, quarter rest, 8th note, half note, whole note, and tie. The singers should be able to perform all of these successfully. 

Example 2 - The second phrase is taught with quarters, 8ths, then ties. The ties create the syncopation. The triad from Example 1 appears again. In the third phrase, we go right to the syncopation (Measure 9). Let's see if the students can transfer. If not, repetition is good...maybe even go back to Measure 6 in Example 1. They need to get the syncopation "in the ear" and secure.

The 8th rests are added last (Measures 10-12). Singers don't know how long to rest with silence, until they hear the same duration with sound. In Measures 9-10, Part III sings quarter notes for a measure, then the rhythms become as one. 

Harmony appears in 6ths. This interval is used in the octavo, and I want the students to be able to "hear" those harmonies.


I hope the 3-Part Mixed Voicing RPS strategy makes more sense because of these explanations. All of my Rehearsal Preparation Sheets are designed similarly. Students should be able to learn the pitches and rhythms easily. An RPS is essentially a "lesson plan within a lesson plan."

If you are interested in purchasing Rehearsal Preparation Sheets from J. W. Pepper, visit their website. If you are a veteran teacher, and this information is not necessarily helpful (you are doing your own RPS sheets), please pass this information on to someone who might benefit from these materials.

I needed all the help I could get as a teacher, and I would have loved these resources for use in my classroom. Enjoy! Share with a friend!

Happy singing! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets - 2-Part Voicings

I am writing posts for a more in-depth look at the approach I use to create a Rehearsal Preparation Sheet. You will find an RPS for every piece of music from Earlene Rentz Online Publications that is available on the J. W. Pepper website. On the Pepper site, the RPS sheets will appear at the bottom of the webpage for each title, and will look as follows:

The technique used in creating these materials is Successive Approximations (Simple to Complex strategy). For all of these RPS sheets, there are some basic rules that are determined by the voicings. My process is based on the assumption that a student's choral skill and competency level will increase over time, according to the years spent in a choral organization. No matter their length of time in choral music, all students can leave with a sense of accomplishment in learning to read music.

As you know, many choirs (post-pandemic) sing 2-Part music who might be older than in the past. Students missed two years of active, on-task, daily music reading when technology was lacking for long distance classroom situations. So now, we are trying to make up for lost time, and it will be a while for some to get back to pre-pandemic skill abilities.

In writing Rehearsal Preparation Sheets, we begin with where most students might be, and go from there. A 2-Part RPS usually begins with simple notation, and branches out quickly to include harmonies created by step-wise movement to find the vertical alignment. Then, we build on that foundation horizontally.


Take a look at this RPS for The Gift to Sing - 2-Part, Available at J. W. Pepper and Earlene Rentz Online Publications:

Example 1 - The example begins in unison, with straight quarter notes...then adds 8th notes. Since the first phrase uses the first five notes of the Major Scale (F), we only need the pitches contained in this example. This octavo has syncopation (misplaced accents), so singers must be led into syncopation, using concepts they know (ties, quarters, 8ths). Since the first phrase of the octavo begins with a quarter rest, they are provided a bit of practice in being silent on the downbeat of 1.

Example 2 - Students have already sung a major triad built on the tonic (Example 1). There is a skip of a Perfect 5th in the second phrase that must be remembered. We find the 5th, using several durations: quarter notes, 8ths and quarters, then with syncopation (ties). Students need a bit of time to think and "find" the pitch, using longer note durations (half notes).

Measures 9-14 introduce the most difficult phrase of the example, and it is filled with syncopation. We go back to the basics: Quarter and 8th notes; step-wise motion; add the ties; 8th rests appear, and before you know it, your students are singing a jazzy, syncopated tune! 

Once you have taught rhythms and pitches in Examples 1 and 2, the most challenging aspects of the repertoire have been taught. Continue making transfers throughout the piece, so the entire octavo will make sense to the students. 

Example 3 - At this point, students are ready for the harmonies. Because the students might be young singers, each voice part is provided its own stave. Begin teaching harmonies by beginning in unison, and use step-wise motion via quarter note durations to find the harmonies. 

There are two other pages for this octavo. To purchase this and all Rehearsal Preparation Sheets, go to J. W. Pepper, and look for Reproducible PDF 2-Part Rehearsal Preparation Sheet on each title's webpage. 

The purchaser is granted permission to make multiple copies of the RPS for their choir.


Take a look at this 2-Part setting of Emily Dickinson's poem It's All I Have to Bring Today. In my opinion, this text is for a mature singer in upper middle school or high school.

You will see greater harmonic and rhythmic complexity with this voicing:

Example 1 - In Measures 1-4, the intervals of the first phrase are being taught, using quarter notes. In measures 5-7, we go quickly to 8th notes, and use the tie to create the dotted 8th followed by 16th

Example 2 - We get to the harmony! Measures 1-5 are simple, with quarter notes and step-wise motion. No problem. Look at measure 6: The "A" might be a problem for Part II. They have sung that harmony before (meas. 2), and we will see if they retain the sound of "thirds." Measure 2 and Measure 6 are different. I wanted students to "hear" the thirds first, then be able to find the mi (E). Be aware of the meter change and the use of the dotted 8th/16th. Students may go right through with no problem, but be ready for a quick "fix." We want students to transfer. Hopefully, they will do so.

Example 3 - Includes 5/4 meter, switching to 3/4 rather quickly. I'm assuming students can sing a dotted quarter/8th in measure 4, and there is an altered pitch in Part II as well. They approach this altered pitch from a half-step above (easy!). 

Notice that you do not have the entire example. There is more on the second page of the RPS that takes the students further, using Successive Approximations (Simple to Complex). 

If the RPS is placed strategically in the rehearsal, they are effective. Sing only those examples that will be covered in repertoire in the day's rehearsal. I would also suggest going straight from the RPS into singing the talking, giving announcements, etc. Keep the musical memory of the RPS in the mind of the students. And...teach for transfer! 

Make everything in the RPS relate to something in the repertoire. There was a purpose in addressing each issue in the RPS, but students may totally freeze when they encounter it in the repertoire, as it "looks" different. You can tell them where they have already sung the passage correctly, and they can make the transfer.

Best of luck in teaching your 2-Part choirs, using Rehearsal Preparation Sheets.

Please share this information with a friend in choral music! Teachers supporting teachers!

Happy Holidays to you and yours! 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Rehearsal Preparation Sheets: Unison Voicings


In the interest of understanding the strategy used in creating the Reproducible PDF Rehearsal Preparation Sheets on J. W. Pepper's website, I wanted you to see it first-hand, with limited explanation. I am going to go through the process so that you can see the logic involved in creating an RPS.

These special resources are available for every piece of music I have on the J. W. Pepper website, and they appear at the bottom of the webpages for the titles (under the list of voicings):

Some might wonder how the RPS structure differs among the voicings, and I wanted to provide some examples of how I work through the octavo. I must begin with what the singer in a Unison choir might know, and then we go from there. Many Unison choirs are composed of young singers who might not be skilled in sightreading, so the process is of utmost importance.

You can have students sing the examples on whatever you use in sightreading (solfege, etc). We are teaching the pitches and rhythms. There is no need to worry about text at this point. If they can become solid with the pitches and rhythms, when they go to the repertoire they will likely be successful. Most of these RPS sheets are not crowded on the page, to allow space for students to write helpful notes in the music. Whatever works for you is great!

As always, if students master the examples on the first try, no need to repeat the example, but if you hear errors, give them another "go" at it. I go for about 85% when I'm using these in choir. Of course, you might have them take them home to practice!

Example 1 - The Key is F Major, so we begin with the F Major Scale.  I know that the first phrase ends on a Middle "C" (Sol...or So). Students need to sing the lowest note of the phrase, because that's where the first phrase is headed. We begin with step-wise motion, then we encounter skips. Select a tempo that allows your students to be successful....possibly a slower tempo. We start simply, with quarter notes.

Example 2 - Quarter notes are initially used in the first phrase, then we have a tiny introduction to 8th notes. The more difficult parts of this example would be the notes that skip around in the scale, so we address that issue. I eventually get to the 6th that ends the theme.

Example 3 - I finally introduce 16th notes. Notice that if it is step-wise, 16th notes are used, but for skips, 8th notes are the best choice. Students do not need to become frustrated with the faster notes. The lowest pitch is kept as the "landing" for the phrase.

Example 4 - We begin to "mix it up" on this example. You will see 16ths, 8ths, and quarter notes. There is also a new rhythm of an 8th followed by two 16ths. You also see a tie that lets students know that two 8ths = one quarter. They also have an 8th rest. I first have the students sing the 8th note, then replace note with silence (rest). 

Example 5 - The second phrase is composed mostly of 16th notes. They sing down to the leading tone of the tonic; then move to the tonic. Acquaint them with "ti." The 8th followed by two 16ths appears in context of the second phrase. We hope for transfer. 

Example 6 - Students must sing fa several times, and they must approach it from a skip. Ugh....not easy....unless we find the fa by using step-wise motion, then use music memory to retain fa. I work with fa a while, hoping that they can keep it in their mind's ear, and return to it. We hope!

Okay...we start simply, then become more complex (Successive Approximations). I generally make few assumptions when creating a Unison RPS. We are training musicians, and I want to make music fun. If they can get through one page, they can say, "I can read music!" 


This folksy tune contains syncopation and "jazzy" rhythms that students will like. The thing they don't realize is that jazzy rhythms (syncopation) are difficult in appearance and performance, we go from what the student likely the concept being taught (syncopation). In addition to the tough rhythms, there is a melody to be learned. A lot is happening at once!

With the Rehearsal Preparation Sheet, we teach one thing at a time. First, the melodic intervals, using quarter and 8th notes, then we gradually get them singing the tough rhythms with the appropriate melody.

Example 1
We begin simply (quarter, 8th, half notes) to teach the first phrase. Then, we sing durations in the melody first, and replace with silence for the rests. We begin with the first five notes of the scale for melody only.

Example 2
Next, we find the 6th scale degree. They have sung the first five scale degrees  previously, so we just increase it by one step. Example 1 had the 8th rest. Let's see if they "get it" in Example 2. If there are those who sing it correctly, applaud the transfer!! 

Measures 9-10 use the "tie" to create syncopation, using concepts the students already know. At this point, say the word syncopation to give a reference for later performance. They have performed syncopation. Labeling it for the future might make your life a bit easier.

You get the idea. New information is introduced gradually and sequentially. Rehearsal Preparation Sheets are lesson plans within lesson plans. These processes are generally those I follow when writing an RPS for Unison Voices

The RPS will become more complex in subsequent examples, and there might be a small amount of actual text later on. After completing the RPS examples, your students are now ready to go to the repertoire!

In a clinic situation years ago, as an experiment, I gave the choral directors an octavo we did not prepare with an RPS. It did not go well. They began saying, "Give us the sheet! Give us the sheet!" These were choral directors, so I think you get my point. They are helpful.

On the J. W. Pepper website, there are Reproducible PDF Rehearsal Preparation Sheets for all of my compositions that are published by Earlene Rentz Online Publications.. The cost is $5.00, and I hope these materials will be helpful to you in teaching repertoire to your students and also in improving sightreading skills.

Thank you!! Enjoy using these resources!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

RPS Project Complete!


Such a great day! All of the octavos on J. W. Pepper from Earlene Rentz Online Publications now have a corresponding Rehearsal Preparation Sheet on their webpages. This was a three month project that was tedious, yet fulfilling. It was interesting to re-visit and think through every octavo I uploaded to the Pepper site; some recent/some "tried and true." You will recognize them with the title: Reproducible PDF (Voicing) Rehearsal Preparation Sheet. There is a statement on the page that will allow the purchaser to make multiple copies for their choir. They are designed to teach repertoire, but are great sightreading materials as well.

The reason I provide these materials to choral directors and students: I "built" all of these octavos from the "ground up." I know how they were constructed, and because I taught for several years, I know a little about possible "bumps" along the way. Sometimes there are difficulties with  intervals, harmonies, rhythms, and vertical/linear sequence related to "all of the above." I have done my best to address these issues.

I usually begin where students are likely competent, and introduce new material sequentially to take them to another level. For example, an elementary choir singing a beginning-level octavo, might begin with an introduction to the scale being used. I might begin an advanced-level RPS with a nod to the tonality, but jump quickly to the vertical/linear challenges.

All to say, when I was in the classroom, I would have welcomed Rehearsal Preparation Sheets specific to octavos I taught. They would have saved me lots of time as I planned daily rehearsals, with specific repertoire goals in mind. 

If you are looking for sightreading materials, these are excellent resources. Just give them a try, and see how they work in your classroom. I always use them with choral groups I conduct, and have been delighted with the response from singers. As you work with students who use these materials, you will know when "enough is enough." In other words, listen to what you are hearing, and there may be no reason to belabor attention to a component, but other choirs might experience difficulties that your choir is not experiencing. Go figure. Every class and every choir is different, but one thing is for certain:  There is no need to concentrate on an RPS example where your students are having no trouble. Every example is referenced to specific measures in the repertoire.

The purchaser is welcome to make multiple copies of Rehearsal Preparation Sheets for their choir. Of course, it is my firm belief that these materials are valuable for teachers and students, but try them yourself before you discount them as unnecessary. The cost is only $5.00 from J. W. Pepper, and they are complimentary when you purchase from my website. Give them a try, then decide. What will save you time in the long-run? You might find them helpful.

For the next several posts, I am going to go through different voicings to give you an idea of the materials for purchase. Each RPS is 2-3 pages in length, and may easily be worked into the warm-up. I'll just show you a single page of the voicings, so you can get an idea. The most effective use of these materials comes when students sing through the examples related to the repertoire measures to be studied on that day, then go directly to the music so they can make immediate transfers to the repertoire.

Feel free to share these posts with friends who might be looking for ways to save time and teach more effectively in the choral classroom. That's a lot of folks!! Enjoy!