by Teresa Jennings

The simplicity of the vocal lines and lyrics of this piece are almost deceptive. That is, until you hear the goosebump level grandeur of the recording. Then, it's quite clear that this is meant to be B-I-G! Even if you perform it as a unison piece, as long as your students sing out with... well, joy... it will be fabulous. There are a number of notated nuances that can help with the musicality, too: For example, the bell-like accents of the word, "joy" at the beginning and in other spots. The sudden change in dynamic at measure 39 is another rich moment that could be most satisfying for an ensemble, no matter how many parts you are using.

And speaking of parts, you have quite a few options here. Obviously, there are three vocal parts, including one that is written in the bass clef for your lower, changing, or changed voices. Parts 2 and 3 are optional, but as always we suggest that you recruit older singers to help with these parts if you want the full experience. Even just adding part 2 will make it more fun.

Other options that will add to the overall majesty include the addition of bells and/or hand drums. The lines for both of these are indicated on the piano/vocal score so you can see how it would all work together. The bells are sometimes played in tandem with the chimes lines on the recording, giving players some exciting moments in the spotlight.

Or – and here's a different approach – make this a bells feature! (No voices at all. Hand drums, optional.) There is a recording on our web site that has just the bells and hand drums with the accompaniment in case you want to hear and consider it.

We should probably mention that the subject matter is one that is clearly usable during Christmas or holiday performances. But truly, it could be used any time it works for your situation.

On the Performance/Accompaniment recording (which is pretty awesome, by the way), you will hear a full performance (3-part, mixed) and accompaniment version. However, given the many ways you could use this, we have created a number of extras you can download for free to use in rehearsals or performances. These are all itemized in our Downloadables Quick Reference Guide.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.