Delight students and wow audiences with educationally valuable pop music that’s fun both to play and to hear!
For choir, we’re featuring 10 new vocal jazz, stage & screen, and pop selections. For concert band and string orchestra, we’re featuring eight of our editorial teams’ favorite arrangements of film scores by Danny Elfman in honor of Elfman’s 70th birthday.
Singing familiar music builds choir students’ confidence. Plus, since they already know the melody and lyrics, teachers can devote more time to introducing new choral techniques!
All 10 of these accessible arrangements are Editors’ Choice selections, and we’ve included a variety of well-known composers and arrangers.
Keep the Beat from Vivo by Lin-Manuel Miranda, arr. Andy Beck
Vivo, Sony Animations’ first musical film, tells the story of title character Vivo’s journey to deliver a love song to retiring singer Marta Sandoval (voiced by Gloria Estefan). Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote all the original music for Vivo, voices the main character, and is an executive producer of the film.
Andy Beck’s mid-tempo pop arrangement of Keep the Beat is available in many voicings including SATB, SAB, and two-part harmony. Featuring multiple sections with body percussion and clapping patterns, this title has a great feel and an inspiring theme—and it offers plenty of creative performance options for any school or community choir.
Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick by Lady Gaga, arr. Mac Huff
We’ve been waiting a long time for Tom Cruise to go back to the Danger Zone! Lady Gaga’s powerful Hold My Hand goes a long way to support Top Gun: Maverick’s emotional pull, and Mac Huff’s accessible arrangement brings out the song’s best qualities. Take advantage of the opportunity to feature a soloist who can rock that quintessential Lady Gaga sound!
I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys, arr. Nathan Howe
It’s hard to believe that this Backstreet Boys hit came out 24 years ago! I Want It That Way has proven staying power, and Nathan Howe’s arrangement—inspired by The Tonight Show’s Classroom Instruments version of the song with Jimmy Fallon, Backstreet Boys, and The Roots—is fun for all ages. This selection is available in a variety of voicings, works a cappella or with accompaniment, and provides the opportunity to involve extra participants by having them play simple instruments. The performance options are endless!
Rise Up by Andra Day, arr. Audrey Snyder
With a powerful message about standing strong in face of serious adversity, Andra Day’s poignant song Rise Up has served as an inspiration to many over the past several years. The official music video is particularly moving: if you haven’t seen it, we recommend that you take a few moments to watch. Audrey Snyder created this arrangement with younger singers in mind, and part-dominant and accompaniment MP3s are available.
The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan, arr. Adam Podd
Program the iconic music of legendary songwriter Bob Dylan! Arranged for mixed choir with piano accompaniment and a soloist by the extremely popular Adam Podd, this selection is concert pop at its finest. The Times They Are A-Changin’ is a classic song with a timely message, and it’s one of Dylan’s best-known hits. High school and community choirs will enjoy the opportunity to showcase quality choral tone in a setting that allows for artistry and sensitivity.
Encanto (Choral Highlights) by Lin-Manuel Miranda, arr. Roger Emerson
Coming in at four and a half minutes, this accessible Encanto medley from Hal Leonard’s Discovery Pop series features shortened versions of three hit songs: The Family Madrigal, We Don’t Talk About Bruno, and Surface Pressure. Educational support materials, including part-dominant, demonstration performance, and accompaniment MP3s, are available. Click here to browse a comprehensive list of music from Encanto!
Joy by Andy Grammer, arr. Anita Cracauer
You just can’t listen to this song without feeling happier! From unofficial king of “happy pop” Andy Grammer, the 2022 hit Joy is a gospel-influenced stomp powered by a strong floor tom groove. J.W. Pepper carries Anita Cracauer’s arrangement in SATB, SAB, and SSA voicings along with part-dominant and accompaniment MP3s. There’s even a complete digital bundle that includes all the available materials at a great price.
While this arrangement comes from ShowChoirStock, it works for choirs of all types. Watch J.W. Pepper’s interview with Anita Cracauer to learn about ShowChoirStock, how to design a complete show choir performance, and more (and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel)!
Cover Me in Sunshine by Pink & Willow Sage Hart, arr. Mac Huff
Originally performed as a duet with pop icon Pink and her daughter Willow, this sweet and simple song has the message that everything will be okay in the end. From Hal Leonard’s Pop Choral Series, Mac Huff’s arrangement of Cover Me in Sunshine is available in all voicings and accessible to choirs of any age. It’s a great choice for a dedication to someone special.
Hand in Hand by Kait Kerrigan & Bree Lowdermilk, arr. Anita Cracauer
You just can’t help but smile when you hear this jazz shuffle—and you can have a lot of fun staging it! Featuring a delightful opening solo and instrumental dance break session, it’s a great choice for Valentine’s Day or for adding a playful and romantic theme to any performance.
Like Joy, Hand in Hand was arranged by Anita Cracauer for ShowChoirStock and is a suitable option for traditional choirs as well as show choirs. Originally written by the musical theater songwriting team Kerrigan and Lowdermilk, it sounds like a standard from the great American songbook!
Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, arr. Roger Emerson
Do you want the crowd to sing along? Do you want your administration to sing along? Two words: “Sweet Caroline!” Everyone loves this classic song, and it’s an especially timely choice since A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical just premiered on Broadway. Feature your tenors and basses with this accessible arrangement by Roger Emerson.
Concert Band and Orchestra
Beetlejuice by Danny Elfman, arr. Douglas E. Wagner
Are you in search of something “strange and unusual?” Starting off with a bell solo, Douglas E. Wagner’s arrangement of the main themes from the movie Beetlejuice captures the excitement and instrumental color of the original score. A challenging Grade 2 from the Belwin Young Band Series, this title is highly programmable and lots of fun for beginner musicians.
The Batman Theme by Danny Elfman, arr. Michael Story
Every comic book fan will know this iconic Danny Elfman score: the main theme from the 1989 Batman movie, directed by Tim Burton! This easy arrangement is perfect for young wind ensembles. While the score was written for a large orchestra and is technically difficult, Michael Story’s scaled-down version maintains all of the original’s appeal and unique flair.
Alice in Wonderland by Danny Elfman, arr. James Kazik
Those who have seen Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland will know that it is much darker than the Disney cartoon classic, and Danny Elfman’s music plays a large part in creating that tone. Elfman brings his distinctive linear style to the score, which opens with driving triplets and includes exciting tom and percussion parts.
James Kazik’s medium-easy arrangement for string orchestra has staccato bowing and multiple down bows and covers most fingering patterns. Featured melodies include movie highlights Alice’s Theme; Alice Returns; Bandersnatched; and Proposal.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Suite by Danny Elfman, arr. Michael Story
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Suite comes from Belwin’s Red Beginning Series for string orchestra. Per Belwin, pieces from this series include frequent bowings to assist young players, and fingerings for altered pitches are often marked.
This film score comes from another Tim Burton adaptation of an older classic: his 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is quite different from the original 1971 musical film. Michael Story’s medley reinforces low first and second fingerings while doubling the cello and bass throughout. Featured themes include Wonka’s Welcome Song; Veruca Salt; and Augustus Gloop.
This Is Halloween by Danny Elfman, arr. James Kazik
One of Danny Elfman’s most recognizable and popular works, “This Is Halloween,” comes from the 1993 cult classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas. James Kazik’s excellent arrangement for strings is part of Hal Leonard’s Pop Specials for Strings Series and, with a grade of medium, offers players a challenge. Play it in the spring, at Christmastime, or as part of a Halloween concert!
Edward Scissorhands by Danny Elfman, arr. Larry Moore
Tim Burton’s inventive and odd film Edward Scissorhands is perhaps best described as a dark fairy tale, and Danny Elfman’s score is beautiful and whimsical. This string orchestra arrangement by Larry Moore is excellent for teaching legato bowing, tone, and overall musicianship. Featured themes from the movie include Edward Scissorhands: Introduction and Ice Dance.
Danny Elfman: Music in the Dark by Danny Elfman, arr. Johnnie Vinson
Johnnie Vinson has arranged a fabulous medley for concert band which includes the main themes from several of Danny Elfman’s most popular film scores: Beetlejuice; Edward Scissorhands; The Nightmare Before Christmas; and even Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Beginning bands will love playing the music from some of their favorite movies!
“A Danny Elfman Spooktacular” by Danny Elfman, arr. Douglas E. Wagner
Douglas E. Wagner’s A Danny Elfman Spooktacular is a string orchestra medley of some of Danny Elfman’s best themes. This title is part of Belwin’s Blue Concert String Orchestra series, which includes bowings appropriate for experienced high school players. Fingerings and position markings are indicated within difficult passages. Featured music includes According to the Plan from The Corpse Bride, the introduction from Dark Shadows, and the main theme from Beetlejuice.
We hope these lists have helped you find a few new titles for your next performance or even inspired you to plan a Tim Burton/Danny Elfman movie marathon! We’d love to hear from you: share your feedback, questions, or requests for future content in the comments.