Gather Around And I'll Tell You A Story

by Teresa Jennings

This song is a simple unison song which offers solo possibilities not with singing, but with speaking. Storytelling, to be exact.

The first time through, the verse and chorus are sung. But the second time through, the verse is sung using the syllable "ooh," instead of lyrics. During this segment, your storytellers come forth and tell a nonsensical story based on many familiar tales.

If you have the Performance/Accompaniment recording for this product, it would be a good idea to listen to this song. It will give you and your students an idea of how the song fits together. Each section of story should fit approximately within four or five measures. The goal is to have two of the sections told by the time the music returns to the chorus, where your unison singers join in with the lyrics each time. If you are not using the cassette or CD, keep the tempo very gentle and flowing.

If your storytellers rush, they will be done long before the chorus. If they speak slowly, you may get to the chorus with your singers before they are done. Ideally, they should speak naturally, but animatedly - exaggerated, and in a storytelling sort of way. Again, the children who perform on the P/A recording are an excellent reference. Keep in mind that even if your storytellers run too long or too short, the singers should begin singing at measure 15.

At the end of the song, one of your storytellers gets to announce, "The End!" Unlike the previous narrative, this can be done rhythmically and is indicated as such on the piano/vocal score.

Costuming options for this song are incredible. If you really wanted to get carried away with your production, you could underline each and every story mentioned. It might be a bit overwhelming to do them all, so perhaps you could pick a pertinent few. Have them enter the performance area as they are mentioned. They don't even necessarily have to do anything but stand there and be admired, since their part of the story goes so quickly. You could, of course, have them try to act out what the story implies. For example, the Pied Piper could be playing his flute. Snow White and Cinderella could be looking around for their Princes. The Little Mermaid could kiss a frog. (Good luck turning him into a prince!)

Also, if you're using the recording, you might be interested in noting and sharing with your students the orchestration for this song. It is mostly rhythm section, including piano, bass, drums, guitar and auxiliary percussion. But at each chorus, you will hear the entrance of a flute and flugelhorn playing a soaring countermelody. There is also a synthesizer doubling the modal line each time it occurs, such as at measure 20.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.