Life Is Good!
by Teresa Jennings/arr. Paul Jennings
As with the first song in the issue, this song is also quite uplifting and reinforces the positive aspects of life. (We think that this is one of the great advantages of music in schools. It has the power to teach and reach students with songs like this that just might help them grow in good ways.) The lyrics are easy and memorable, so the message should be available to students of just about any age.
Of course, if you've listened to the recording of this song, you know that the best part of it is the big band jazz arrangement. In his usual superb style, Paul has assembled a tight, creative chart for use with this tune. Let your students listen to the recording so that they can hear the arrangement, the instrumentation, the performance of the singers, and the interpretation of swing.
Speaking of swing - remind students that it is sung with a rollicking, triplet feel. The indication at the top of the music with the eighth notes and the triplet quarter note/eighth note figure is one way to identify a swing tune. This means that whenever they see straight eighth notes, they do not sing them straight, they swing them as if they were triplet based.
As with all of our big band features, we have included traditional instrumentation, which you can take the opportunity to discuss with your students, if you like. They will hear piano, bass, drums, guitar, congas, trumpets, horns, trombones, and saxes.
Because it is a big band feature, we have added a movement/instrumental section to show off the ensemble at the same time you show off some dancers! At measure 5 on the D.S., the students do not sing. For 16 measures, they can do whatever you want them to. They could do a hand jive, some soft shoe steps, a little sand block rubbing, or even a line dance. There are no rules. What does this style of music inspire them to do? If you do have students who are dancers, perhaps you could convince them to be featured at this time. Maybe a couple doing some ballroom dancing while the band plays on would be effective. Go ahead and ask the local dance instructor for some help and ideas. (And don't forget to credit her or him if you use the song in performance.)
Here's another thought. Why not let some students pretend to be the jazz band? Some cool sunglasses, a few mock instruments (or real ones, if you can get them), and they can "play" along while other students snap their fingers on beats two and four.
Okay, here's one more idea. How about asking parents or grandparents to come and dance during the song? Maybe some of the adults at your school are secretly into floating across a dance floor. Ballroom dancing to this song would be fun. You could even invite your audience members to get on their feet and dance along, too. Have a student go out and ask for a dance with his mom or grandmother. That sort of thing. You get the idea.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.