by John Riggio
If ever there was a "feel good" song, this is it! Celebrating the joys of summertime and youth, "Summer Skies" revels in fun, warmth and delightful introspection. The happy melody, while syncopated, is so singable your students (especially your older girls, we suspect) will enjoy it very much.
The solo guitar and saxophone on the recording, which alternately shine and intertwine throughout the piece, will leave you smiling. Guitarist Sandy Williams never disappoints when it comes to tasteful embellishment, and saxophonist Jim Farrelly is clearly in his element with this type of solo work. Together, they are awesome. (We suspect we may just have to write more songs for them to complement in this way!)
Given the syncopation, sustained phrases and bountiful lyrics, you may wish to use this song with classes older than primary. Of course, as we have often maintained, you can mix classes of varying ages to help reinforce learning and performing. For example, ask a select group of seventh or eighth graders to join a younger class. Not only will this help the younger students learn the piece, but it will also help with their confidence. The older students will feel that they have contributed in an important manner and will appreciate their roles as teachers.
The song is unison throughout until the end. Even then, the divisi is optional. If you wish to continue in unison, simply use the top line only. As with all multiple parts like this, you could pick and choose any of the other lines to add to the melody if you don't wish to use all four. Part 1 and 3 would blend nicely. Or part 1 and 2, and so on. However it works for your singers will be just fine.
Consider using the song as a closer for your spring school concert, if you have one. You can bet it will be effective!
One more note: Though the lyrics mostly speak of the delights and restfulness of summer (when presumably most students are not in school), they go in a different direction in the third verse. This is where the introspection comes in. Time to think about the future and what lies ahead become the focus - "As we daydream, we might gleam the future!" What a wonderful opportunity to discuss the bright possibilities students have before them! If you have the time to bring up the subject, by all means, do so.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.