by Teresa Jennings

Chestnuts are not only delicious, they are also a classic holiday treat for many of us. But have you ever tried to open one? If it isn't slit and roasted first, it's quite difficult. Plus, it doesn't actually taste as good – less sweet and a bit astringent. So like the old familiar holiday song suggests, we ought to roast them on an open fire. (Or just in the oven, like we did when we were kids, will suffice.)

This lighthearted song pays homage to the humble chestnut with a bit of whimsy in the form of a quasi erudite, Baroque-ish flavor (pardon the pun). Set to a background of lightly bouncing harpsichord, strings, horns, and woodwinds, it's easy enough to maintain the attitude of melodramatic politeness called for.

The song is obviously a partner song, meaning each of the two parts is sung independently at first, then combined for harmonic, and hopefully amusing, effect. Be sure each of the sets of singers enunciates clearly, as there is a little bit of a story going on. One group of singers (part 1) delights in the joys of the chestnut, extolling its virtues as a nice and tasty tradition. The other group (part 2) is clearly unhappy, stumped by the outer shell, which is difficult to open. (This assumes the chestnut wasn't roasted, of course. A slit and roasted chestnut opens pretty easily.) Go ahead and let your part 2 singers exaggerate a bit, even physically (for example, holding out their bruised hands or thumbs in obvious feigned pain), as they sing their complaints.

Be sure the final punctuation is clearly delineated when part 1 sings "Yes!" followed immediately by part 2 singing "No!" Both words should be short, clear, and accented.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.