For current or prospective members looking to review and relearn their instruments we suggest the book Unison Songs for Band. This book can be used:
- as a supplementary book to any band method.
- as a beginning band method. No fingering charts or fingerings are included, as these are intended to be provided by the teacher.
- by intermediate players to learn to play in additional keys.
- by experienced instrumentalists learning another instrument.
- by persons of any age who have played in the past but need a refresher course to play again.
The songs in this book are “public domain” which means the copyright on them has expired, so they can be used and copied without any permission or payment needed. This book can also be copied as desired without any permission or payment. Some of the songs are “hymn tunes” and we have listed them by the “tune name” rather than by the first line of the lyrics usually sung to those tunes, as the lyrics vary from one organization to another. Other songs are folk songs, mostly from the nineteenth century or by nineteenth century or earlier composers. The songs are arranged in an order that gives an orderly progression of skill development. For the drum book, basic drum rudiments are included for slow practice.
Select from the list below to download the .pdf book that corresponds to your instrument. If you want a comb bound book printed, you can put the .pdf file on a memory stick and take it to Staples, Kinkos or any other print shop.
*Note: Some books may be labeled for a different instrument, but will still work as some instruments are keyed similarly. Bassoonists should download both the tuba and trombone books.
Band directors can download the full score for educational purposes:
Tips for instrumentalists:
- You can use the Trombone book for Baritone, Alto Sax book for Baritone Sax and Tenor Sax book for Soprano Sax.
- The tuba book is probably better suited for people converting to Tuba rather than for pure beginners.
- The songs have been adjusted — with some octave switches — for some instruments to bring the songs into a reasonable playing range.
- The songs progress through most of the common keys. Playing the songs in the order presented will help technical development.
- The percussion book has a number of rudiments designed for slow careful practice. Care should be taken that the left and right hands sound the same. In a class setting drummers should take turns playing bass drum, as this part has a progression of rhythmic difficulty also.
Tips for band directors:
- The quarter note passages on the opening page make a good band warmup for elementary level bands.
- On the rests section, have a class or individual say the number out loud where the rest falls. This aids in getting them to count in their minds as they have to be counting to know what count they are on when they get to the rest. Flutists can just open the mouth to say the number. Others should leave the mouthpiece in place and open the corners to speak around the mouthpiece.
- If used in a band class, the goal should be for enough explanation to be given so the students can play each song without error on the first try. Then try for five times in a row with no mistakes.
- There are no fingerings or fingering charts. If a student can’t remember the fingerings necessary to play the songs, that will need to be addressed seperately.
- Feel free to distribute these files to any colleagues who might be able to use them.