by Teresa Jennings

Though it might actually seem contrary to the point of a revue called, "Forward," we feel pretty strongly about helping kids recognize that the path is not always smooth. Indeed, one of the lines of the song specifically states, "Failure is an option." (Note the use of glottals on the music to make sure the message is crisp and clear.) The point is, it's okay. We all have failures, obstacles, and yes, hurdles. It's what we do to move on that matters. Often, there are lessons to be learned like, try this path, not that one. But also often, it might seem like there are none. Still, even just needing patience or finding strength within is quite a message. It bears consideration.

The song, "Hurdles" is set to a triplet-based hip hop groove. That means that the eighth notes swing. It's actually pretty easy to feel and pick up, especially when you let your singers listen to the recording. There is also an optional second part that adds nicely to the overall effect. If you wish to use it, you'll find an isolated rehearsal track online.

At measure 19, the groove shifts to straight eighths for a more floating feeling. But singers will barely notice because they only have quarter notes for that section.

Another way we have emphasized the triplet nature is through the use of body percussion. In this case, it's only patsching, or thigh slapping. The left/right pattern is somewhat natural and follows a similar rhythmic line in the winds (led by soprano sax) most of the time. Though this is optional, we think your performers will enjoy doing it. If it's too much, try using a select group to do this while others sing. Online, you will find an a cappella version that includes the patsching, which is actually pretty cool. You can use it for teaching, performing, or listening, as you prefer.

The inspiration for using hurdles as a metaphor came when we were watching the Olympics recently. The runners who had to jump them at high speeds were just amazing. But sometimes they tripped or knocked one over. And so they readjusted and continued on their way. As we do in life. On the music, you may have noticed the "Vangelis synth" indication. If you listen carefully to the recording, you can hear some old synthesizer sounds similar (but not matching) to those used on the movie Chariots Of Fire. (If you're not old enough to know this, it was a movie about Olympic runners, hence the homage.)

One more thing about this song is that it is not specific to this revue. So you can mix and match it with other programs, collections, or revues as you like. You could also share it with the regular classroom teacher to make it a cross curricular activity, always a positive for music classes.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.