Tea For Two
adapted/arr. Paul & Teresa Jennings
For the past couple of years, we have been happily bringing you new arrangements of old songs that are now in the public domain, thanks to the copyright rules that finally allowed this change. It began in 2019, and now in 2021, we can freely do songs from 1923, 1924, and 1925, a very exciting concept to us! We have a vast library of choices, but of course, we want to choose things that are appropriate for kids and that we feel they ought to be familiar with. Alas, the lyrics are frequently not so kid friendly, so we are having to adapt. Such is the case for our next offering, "Tea For Two."
Originally written in 1924 by Vincent Youmans with lyrics by Irving Caesar for the musical No, No, Nanette, this tune went on to become Youmans' most popular song. It also became a hit for many performers, including pianist Art Tatum in 1939. (Note: Your students may be awed by his amazing solo performance which found its way into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Consider playing it for them. If your school doesn't have it in the library, it is worth the $1.29 on iTunes and can be found on YouTube and elsewhere.)
As we said, the original lyrics are not great for kids, so we updated them to be a bit more friendly. It seemed natural to make it more about the number of tea sippers than the previous romantic direction of the tale. We also kept it unison for ease of learning, singing, and listening to that terrific big band playing on the Performance/ Accompaniment recording.
Our arrangement is set in a moderate swing style, with eighth notes not straight, but feeling like broken triplets, like the common sound of many jazz or blues songs in 4/4 time. As your students listen to our recording they'll easily get the feel from our singers and players. They might even be a little inspired to do some swaying, shuffling, soft-shoe, or tap dancing. (You can find many videos of this piece with dancing and singing on YouTube, if you wish to carry this lesson further. Just be sure you screen them yourself first.)
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.