The Groundhog Galop

by Teresa Jennings

It's hard to believe, but true, that we've come up with yet another groundhog song. As long as you keep asking for them, we'll keep writing them!

This time, the subject of our song is in danger of seeing his shadow if he doesn't get back into his hole in a timely fashion. Your singers are his rooting section as they tell the story and cheer him on.

The song is very lively, and very silly, and should be performed with a modicum of seriousness for maximum humorous impact. Let your students listen to the singers on the recording for an idea of how to perform the song. Pay special attention to the accented words at the ends of the verses. Select a few singers to really hit the accents hard in an exaggerated manner for fun.

Pick one soloist to shiver, "Brrr!" in the first ending each time it occurs, and another to announce, "They're off!" after measure 26. The trumpet fanfare and starter's pistol indicate that a "race" is about to begin at this point. During the chromatic section at measure 30, the woodblocks encourage the pitter patter of the groundhog's pace as the singers chant, "Go! Go!," etc. This is an excellent opportunity for you to reinforce dynamics with your students as well. The first time at 30 is piano. At 38, it's mezzo-piano. The repeat of 30 is mezzo-forte, and at 38 again, it's forte. During the second ending, the sforzando-piano which crescendos into a fortissimo reminds us of a cheerleader's cheer. Again, the kids on the recording did an excellent job with this.

After the horse whinnies, we're back at the frantic verse and maybe, just maybe, the groundhog will make it back into his hole before he sees his shadow.

One other notable thing about this song: the title "Galop" is spelled correctly, with one "l" even though at one point in the song, we have our groundhog "gallop" (the woodblock section) with two "l's." In musical terms, "galop" is a spirited dance in 2/4 time. In race terms, "gallop" is a very rapid step. So, in the context of this song, the word has double meaning. Gee, aren't we clever?

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.