by Karl Hitzemann
March 27th, 2012, marks the 100th anniversary of the planting of the cherry trees along the shore of the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. The trees were a gift from Japan, and have become a very popular tourist attraction. There is even a National Cherry Blossom Festival held each year in the spring, when the trees are in full bloom.
The song "Cherry Blossoms" was written to commemorate this 100th anniversary. It has a distinct Japanese feel to it, and sounds sweet and haunting at the same time – which depicts the beautiful, but brief time that the trees are in bloom. While the melody for "Cherry Blossoms" is original, some of the lyrics come from the well-known Japanese folk song, "Sakura, Sakura." ("Sakura" is Japanese for "cherry blossom.") This is an excellent opportunity for a cross-curricular experience with the other teachers at your school. Whether you're studying Japan, Japanese culture, folk songs, Washington D.C., or just celebrating spring, this song will fit in nicely.
To sing this song, your singers will need good breath support as some of the phrases are a bit long. For measures 28-36, you can teach them about the technique of "stagger breathing" to achieve a very dramatic effect. Also, make sure you get a nice pure vowel sound on the "ooh" sections. While the accompaniment tracks really set the tone for this piece, you could also do a completely live accompaniment with just piano and guitar (and wind chimes, if they are available).
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.