The idea for using African American Spirituals was twofold. First, I love American roots music, and I believe my students should have exposure to American roots music . Second, the musical elements (range, rhythm and harmony) in both “Wade in the Water” and “Freedom Road” are appropriate for middle school level students.
Wade in the Water/ Freedom Road (a multi-level middle school band work) begins with two solo Instrumentalists. The first soloist (alto sax) introduces Wade in the Water and the second soloist (trumpet) introduces Freedom Road. Both soloists are accompanied by the full band stomping feet and Clapping hands to the beat (pulse). The two soloists should be year 2 or year 3 players who would be comfortable performing a solo. The less experienced students have the opportunity to hear the melody played first by the more experienced students. After the solo introduction section, the entire band enters with the Wade in the Water melody. The full band continues into the second Freedom Road melody. After the two themes are completed by the full band, the percussion and low brass sections drop out and the two melodies are performed simultaneously by the wind section. The full band enters and plays through the two melodies simultaneously and the piece comes to an end. Enjoy!
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