There Once Was A Family

by Karl Hitzemann

This folksy, upbeat song will be great for the classroom and in a performance. It's very simple and easy to learn. Each verse introduces a new location and family member (country/brother, city/sister, valley/uncle, and mountains/cousin) and a new instrument (banjo, cello, trombone, and piano). The neat thing is that each time an instrument is mentioned, that instrument has a featured solo line during the chorus. The song is progressive, so once the instrument is introduced, it stays in each time it comes to that point in the song. It would be fun to have four students stand in front of your choir and pantomime playing each instrument as it comes up. Again, since it is progressive, each student could come forward when his or her instrument is called.

The recorded accompaniment is very fun to listen to. It features a rhythm section and strings. The strings play pizzicato during the verses and arco during the chorus. A live accompaniment for this song would be fun with piano, guitar, drums, etc., but then you need to have some way to do the solo instruments. If you happen to have a banjo player, cellist, trombonist, and pianist at your disposal, that would be awesome! They could mimic what they hear on the recording, or make up their own feature.

You could also use different instruments, though you might sacrifice the rhyming scheme to do so. But you could then choose instruments your students can play like recorder, flute, drum, etc. They would also then need to play their own solo at the chorus, but that's part of the fun of creating their own version.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.