Monday, December 5, 2016

Les Toreadors Arrangement


Les Toreadors sheet music arrangement for beginning orchestra

My district has an annual String Fest, where all the orchestra students in the district get together for a day of rehearsing and listening with a big concert that evening in the field house.  Each grade level orchestra is featured for a piece or two, and then everyone plays a combined piece as the grand finale.  This grand finale piece has to be playable for first-year string players but still interesting to high school musicians.  My solution this year has been to arrange sections of "Les Toreadors" from Carmen by Georges Bizet in a multi-level format.  I did transpose it to D Major from its original A Major to make it friendlier for the beginners, and I shortened the movement to a simple ABA form.

Overview of parts:

  • The beginning students get a simplified unison version with limited range--mostly D string notes plus a section with  hopping 2nd finger notes (B on the G string and C# on the A string) and open G.  
  • The elementary (second-year) parts have the same simplified rhythms but an expanded range--mostly notes from the D Major scale plus the bass part gets some 2nd finger notes and a fun chromatic passage.  I also included "challenge" intermediate parts which include more finger work, more eighth notes, and a slightly wider range to sound more like the original melody.  The "B" section is the same between the regular and challenge parts.  The different voices would be regular parts (vln/vla/cello basically in unison), challenge parts (vln/vla/cello basically in unison), bass part.
  • And then the advanced parts come from Bizet's original, just transposed to D Major.


Here are the openings for the different violin parts for comparison...

Beginning orchestra:

Les Toreadors sheet music arrangement for beginning orchestra

 Intermediate orchestra (regular part)
Les Toreadors sheet music arrangement for intermediate orchestra

Intermediate orchestra (challenge part)
Les Toreadors sheet music arrangement for intermediate orchestra

Advanced orchestra (Violin I)
Les Toreadors sheet music arrangement for intermediate orchestra

Advanced orchestra (Violin II)
Les Toreadors sheet music arrangement for intermediate orchestra


Sheet music (all PDFs):

Audio (WAV files) to preview or for students to play along with to practice:


Intermediate melody (first 4 lines only) and challenge part (first 4 lines only), which I used when introducing the piece:

With all the different versions, you can mix and match to differentiate for individual students.  I like to use clip art instead of labeling parts "beginning" and "intermediate" etc., so you'll see matching images within the beginning and intermediate parts and scores.

Feel free to try out with your orchestras!


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