by Teresa Jennings
What an exciting and positive way to start the school year! (Not to mention finish it, or use anytime in between.) The one thing all students have in common, no matter who they are or where they come from, is possibilities. Like the song says, "My life is spread before me. I see possibilities." It's so true. Your students are young and have every reason to look forward to lives filled with challenges and exciting journeys. The only thing they have to do is decide which roads they will travel. Which is not to say that they will not meet with detours from time to time, as we all do. But even so, is it not up to them to enjoy the scenery along the detour as well? Or to at least learn from the experience? This is the main focus of our new all-school revue this year, and consequently the name of both the revue itself and our title song, "Possibilities."
As always, we will bring you the first songs for the revue in this first issue of Music K-8, followed by more songs and a script to tie them together in the next two issues. By the time you receive your third issue (January/February 1997), you will have an entire revue at your fingertips to use completely or partially as your needs dictate.
We're pretty pleased with ourselves for the orchestration and recording of this first issue, including and especially, "Possibilities." If you are a veteran subscriber, you know that we go to great lengths to produce high quality Performance/Accompaniment Cassettes - and now Compact Discs, too. (Which makes us very happy, since we can share the even higher quality digital sound of CDs with our subscribers and their students! But I digress...) For this recording session, we have once again brought in a string section to enhance our usual group of incredible professionals. And this time, we have gone even one further - we've hired an oboist, who also doubles on English horn! As always, we would like to recommend that you and your students listen to the instrumental versions of our songs to fully appreciate them and possibly use them for study. "Possibilities" is particularly nice for this, as it offers many textures and countermelodies you and your students will enjoy.
Since most of you will receive the P/A cassette or CD for this issue, we hope that you will use it to rehearse and/or perform our songs. However, if you prefer to play the piano, you should be able to play most of "Possibilities" without too much difficulty. You might want to decide which parts of the moving eighth note line at the beginning and elsewhere you will use for your own ease of playing. In cases like this, we are providing you with more of a condensed score than a piano part, hence the multiple lines and "un-pianistic" reaches for one hand.
It's important to note that part 2 does not begin until measure 14 on the D.S. By then, you have heard the melody once, so now you can focus a bit more on your newly entering echo and countermelody. If you are using a younger or less experienced class and would prefer not to use part 2, rest assured that the song will work very well with just part 1 throughout. Sometimes, when we add a second part, it is lower than the first. In this case, it is at least as high, and frequently higher. (Hint: have your part 2 singers round out their vowel sounds as they sing the soaring higher lines, such as at the coda. For instance, if they sing the word "see" with a pure "e" sound, it will pinch and alter the potential quality of the line. Let them practice changing the shape of their mouths as they sing the word to discover the effect it has.)
The real key to successful vocal work in this song whether you use one or both of the vocal parts, is energy! A bit of separation during the verse at measure 14 and again at the chorus at measure 31 and the coda will add a lot from a listening perspective. Teach your singers to accent as well, using their diaphragms. (We like to do bouncing diaphragm exercises before performing songs with accents or separation such as this one.) The section at measure 22 can be sung more fluidly or legato, as the wind ensemble demonstrated during the introduction. Help your students make the aural connection between their lines at measure 22 and that same line in the winds as it occurs.
The basic instrumentation for this song includes a rhythm section (piano, bass, guitar and drums), a wind section (flute, clarinet, oboe, trumpets, trombones, horns), strings (violins, violas, celli), and percussion (congas, triangle). See if your students can isolate the sounds of the various instruments as they listen to the instrumental version. For example, can they distinctly hear the pizzicato strings enter four measures before the D.S.? Can they identify the instruments that play the soaring countermelody at measure 46? This line is a harmony line for the part 2 vocal line as well. Can they hear it?
One final note - at the very end of the song, part 2 includes an optional divisi. If you don't feel comfortable letting half or more of your singers go up to the high E flat, consider selecting a few only. If you perform the piece to an audience, make sure you locate the high singers where they will be heard. Also, be sure all singers sustain their last note, which is a dotted half note, to beat one of the final measure. Give them a clean cut off for the best effect.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.