String Orchestra Collection

Works for Student String Orchestra

Trees and Steel Music believes that even the earliest beginners should be able to forge authentic musical connections with their audiences, and should continue doing so throughout their musical careers. To this end, we publish works for student string orchestra that, within technical boundaries, inspire musical interpretations and create opportunities for expressive playing. Priority is given to offering appropriate challenges to all sections of the orchestra – you won’t find any gratuitously easy (read: boring) second violin, viola, or bass parts here.

Individual publications listed below link to product pages where you can view scores, listen to recordings, and purchase. Every piece is written for a specific performance situation and a specific group of students, so each has it’s own unique character. Thank you for perusing!

The Catalog

Available exclusively at J.W. Pepper

Buccaneer Chanty

Grade 1 • 3/4 • E Dorian

This aggressively rhythmic piece imagines life on board a buccaneer ship! Each section of the orchestra is featured playing the melody, building to a rousing canon where all sections join in Second violin and viola parts are nearly identical to help directors cover all parts when instrumentation may be lacking.

Celebration March

Grade 1 • 4/4 • D major

Why should the band have all the fun? This light-hearted Sousa-style march will help your beginning orchestra sound great and feel confident. Set in D major, this melody is constructed of interval jumps to open strings, promoting solid, accurate finger placement. Each section is featured prominently, giving everyone a chance to shine!

Creatures of the Deep

Grade 1.5 • 4/4 • E Dorian

A double bass section feature! Using positions I-IV in the bass, the part sounds and looks harder than it really is, making your bass section look and sound great. Perfect for beginning bassists who are comfortable in IV position as proscribed in several popular methods. Scoring gives each section an interesting part while leaving lots of space for the basses to be heard in the texture.


Grade 2 • 2/2 & 3/2 • G Mixolydian

This miniature tone poem depicts the changing colors in the sky at dawn. This piece is designed to draw a lush, gorgeous sound out of a young string orchestra. Long, dramatic phrases demand careful attention to bow distribution and steady counting.


Grade 1.5 • 4/4 • E Dorian

This rhythm-driven piece features extended techniques on string instruments including sul ponticello, col legno battuto, percussive tapping and slapping, and Bartok pizzicato. The orchestra sections build up layers of rhythm and sound, with a rhythm canon forming the core of the piece. Besides making the orchestra sound like a giant machine, the material is reminiscent of music from a spy movie, hence the name.

Monster Movie!

Grade 1.5 • 4/4 • E Dorian

This piece is the soundtrack to an imaginary monster movie, with all the requisite musical highlights: an action-packed chase sequence, a courageous hero’s theme, some terrifyingly suspenseful edge-of-your-seat moments, and a spectacular final conflict! Technical highlights include differentiating between F sharps and F naturals; drawing a contrast between staccato, legato, and detach bow strokes; tremolo, col lego battuto, and extremes in dynamics.

Moonlight Caravan

Grade 1 • 3/4 • E Dorian

Double basses are featured first with the primary lumbering melody, later joined by a graceful and serene theme in the upper strings. This diatonically E Dorian piece features full harmonies that will give your beginners a sophisticated sound.

Summer Storm

Grade 1 • 3/4 • E Dorian

A tempestuous tour de force, using detache, staccato, slurs, accents and pizzicato techniques to illustrate the different facets of a blustering thunderstorm. The entire piece can be played without low-2 finger patterns in the violins and violas, but “low notes optional” passages offer advancing cellists, violists, and violinists the challenge of high three and extended fourth finger on the G string.

The Tango Lesson

Grade 1 • 4/4 • B minor

This piece calls to mind a beginner’s first tango lesson, starting out by a musical depiction of footsteps falling pedantically in the characteristic slow, slow, quick, quick, slow rhythm. A musically satisfying piece written with the technical limitations of beginning string students in mind, this piece captures the dramatic feeling of an authentic tango. Contrasts in articulation and dynamics add to the drama and intrigue.

Our Story

Trees and steel is the personal publishing company of composer Timothy J. Isham, known internationally for pedagogical works including Patriotic Salute, Funky Fiddles, and Viola Rampage. 

Mr. Isham brings to the table both his years of experience performing with professional orchestras (including the Toldeo Symphony and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra), plus 15 years of teaching in public school string programs.

He combines his passion for performance with his practical knowledge of what works in a school orchestra setting to bring engaging, exciting, eminently playable works for performance by student orchestras.

Custom Requests

Do you like what you hear, but can’t find a piece that meets the exact needs of your group? Do you wish you could find a tune that addresses a specific technique but haven’t had any luck? Are you looking for music for a special occasion? 

Contact me directly with your ideas. Even (especially) if it’s not a commission, I am always open to your suggestions. Your cool idea might become the next Trees and Steel masterpiece!