Dancing In The Moonlight

by Teresa Jennings/arr. Paul Jennings

This song was a whole lot of fun to write and produce! As you may recall, every year in our fourth issue, we like to do some sort of focus on big band jazz. (Since we have master jazz arranger Paul Jennings in our stable of writers, can you blame us?) This year, we decided to do a piece that's quite upbeat and lively and promises to give your students plenty of opportunity to move!

Since the focus is big band jazz, you will need the P/A recording to successfully perform this piece. We have no doubt you will appreciate our amazing ensemble of musicians. Besides our usual rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass, drums and percussion, we have a wind ensemble which includes four trumpets, four trombones, two horns, and four saxes. (We humbly note that these are some of the finest contemporary jazz musicians you will ever hear and we feel darn lucky to have them. If you want to know who they are, please refer to our masthead on the inside front cover.) We are also compelled to mention the incredible trumpet soli at measure 67. Words can't describe... If you have the opportunity to play just the instrumental tracks for your students, please do so. They are cookin'.

As far as the vocal lines are concerned, you should have no difficulty teaching this one. It is unison throughout, and despite the tempo, it lays well for singers. Let your students listen to the interpretation of our singers on the recording for an example of style. Play it a few times over to teach it to them, if you wish. You will find that they will pick it up nicely, especially if you are using middle to upper level classes.

As the title suggests, the song is about dancing. There is a generous instrumental/dance section which begins at measure 67 and continues until the D.S. after measure 99. The style of the section is Latin jazz until measure 83, when it goes into swing. As it heads back into the D.S., the Latin style resumes and remains for the rest of the song.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to showcase any talented young dancers in your midst! They don't even have to be students from your own classes. You can tap the talent from other classes, or the middle school or high school, which would get more involvement and support for your program.

The cover of this issue (and the lyric page) illustrate a sort of Fred and Ginger pose in the moonlight-silhouetted dancers. With your own huge moon as a backdrop (a spotlight on the back wall in a darkened room, perhaps?), you could have a pair of dancers, a soloist, or an ensemble of any size you wish performing. Your chorus could stand quietly and watch, or they could add their own subtle movements, such as rocking, light bouncing or swaying. A few glitter-covered stars hanging from strings and moving slightly in the air will also add to the ambience of movement and night combined.

If you would rather highlight the whole gang, hand jives are particularly effective. If your atmosphere is darkened to suggest night light, white gloves would stand out very well. Select a few easily learned movements and repeat them for ease of teaching and retention.

Or for a super simple idea, have some or all of your students hold moon and star props in their hands at the appropriate time during the music. Very easy movements (again, repetitious is fine) can be incorporated with decent results.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.