Mashed Potatoes

by Teresa Jennings

In our ever-constant brainstorming to come up with seasonal songs that anyone can use, we sometimes come up with some pretty crazy stuff. This time, we reasoned that most holiday celebrations, no matter what they are for, involve food. Thanksgiving? Food. Christmas? Food. Hanukkah? Food. Kwanzaa? Food. And so on. Especially in the case of Thanksgiving, we are rather certain that mashed potatoes are a staple of many people's dinner plans. (It's a pretty American thing to eat, isn't it?)

Your students will love this one from the outset. Our singers in the recording session had a tough time standing still, and really got into belting out the chorus, as well as its response. They even learned the spoken mashing rhythms very quickly. A good sign.

The song is a boogie woogie and starts with just rhythm section. The winds enter in octaves till the verse, which is also spoken. The eighth notes are swung in this song, too, which means there is an undercurrent of triplets constantly. Your singers will catch on rather quickly once they hear the recording.

During the mashed potato dance at measure 21, you may use the rhythms we have suggested, or let your students make up their own. Either stomping or patsching with fists will work for the responses. The L's and R's over the music are recommendations for using the left or right foot or fist. We suggest letting students pound their fists into the hands while saying "mash" for the visual effect. It's also just fun to do. If you want to let them add mashing sound effects during the stomps, they could do that, too. We divided the mashers and stompers into two different groups, which we found more reasonable for performing. If you do this, you could reverse the two parts on subsequent performances.

Here's a clue for learning some of the mashing rhythms during the dance. The one at measure 25 is "Sing a Song of Sixpence." At measure 27, it's the rhythm from "Dragnet." At 29, it's "Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake." And at 31 and 32, it's "Shave and a haircut, two bits."

We like the recording of this song a lot because it once again allows us to show off our incredible back-up instrumentalists. They are particularly cool during the dance section when they play dissonant splats, pops, and falls (a la the old Batman t.v. show). We hope you will take the time to listen to them on the tracks-only version.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.