by Teresa Jennings

Every now and then we deliberately write a piece that we know darn well is going to cause you to have to explain to your kids' next teacher why they are so riled up. "Hoedown!" is just such a piece. It will definitely get their toes tapping, their bodies moving and their spirits lifting! And while it certainly would be a fun piece to perform for an audience, it would be equally enjoyable right in the classroom.

Right off the top, the fiddle, banjo, and mandolin set the tone for some good old-fashioned country fun. The hand claps indicated on the piano/vocal part are optional and can either be done with the right hand rhythms as indicated, or can be simplified to an off-beat rhythm only. Stopping the claps during the sustained parts will produce the best results.

During the chorus, you will note that there is an optional three-part divisi each time the phrase occurs. You will discover that this is a natural and simple extension of what they are already doing, and you may not have any problem with it at all. Of course, it is optional and you can have them sustain the first pitch, or add the second one only if you prefer. If you do use all three, consider dividing the class so that each part is substantially covered. If you have strong soloists, that would be another possibility for the two higher notes. Listen for the rim shot in the drums to cut off the held note each time.

If you are using the Performance/Accompaniment Cassette, you will no doubt want to point out all of the neat instruments being played. Starting with the fiddle, see if you can also isolate the sound of the banjo, mandolin, piano, and bass. Also, be sure to listen for the entrance of the Jew's Harp at the first chorus. Discuss the instrument. (What is it? What does it look like? How is it played? What kind of sound does it make?) If you could get one to bring into class and demonstrate, all the better.

At measure 41, there are 16 bars of fiddle solo to be used for a dance break. Again, whether you are performing this for yourselves or an audience, use this section to add some movement. Classically, some square dance movements would be ideal here. If you don't know any, perhaps another teacher or parent could help. (Does your physical education teacher have any knowledge in this area?) Ask around. If you still don't have any luck, consider some simple country-style movements instead. The following suggestions can be adapted for use during the break, or just about any other point in the song you like.

During the verses:
Stand with feet slightly apart. Hook thumbs in waist band or belt. Bounce up and down with the beat. Alternate with hand claps as applicable.
During the chorus:
Crook elbow of right arm and make fist. Swing arm in front of body during the first word, "Hoedown." Repeat motion with left arm for next "Hoedown!"Pretend to be grabbing something for "Grab your hoe..." Make beckoning motion with right hand for "...and bring it on 'round." Repeat "Hoedown!" gestures. At held notes, slowly spread open hands outward as if preparing for a big hug. Put hands on hips abruptly on beat one for "Everybody's comin' to the ol' Hoedown!"

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.