Gruesome Groaners

by Teresa & Paul Jennings

Even though we didn't necessarily mean for this song to be part of the revue, Lighten Up, it sure could be! (Especially if you use it around Halloween time. Although there are no rules that say you can't use "horrid humor" anytime, are there?)

So what exactly is a groaner? It's a joke or pun that illicits a groan or similar response from the listening audience. Usually this seems to be the result of the humor not being of the highest (or funniest) calibre. This song is full of groaners.

We set this gruesome tune in a medium swing style, with acoustic bass and lots of dissonant jazzy winds. We've even thrown in a jazz theremin to give it that authentic seasonal flavor. The instrumental tracks are lots of fun to listen to all by themselves, though we know that your students will probably be more interested in getting to the jokes and sound effects.

The chorus repeats five times at measure 9. After each phrase, there is a solo groan or scream, which you can assign to the same students or different ones each time. At measure 17, the jokes begin. Again, you can assign whoever you want to deliver either the question, the answer, or the sound effect response each time. (Auditions are usually interesting, especially with kids who are dying to do all the jokes...) The sound effect responses after each joke are meant to be the symbolic "groan," hence the need for yet a third person to do them.

As it says on the music, encourage your performers to adopt different spooky voices and delivery styles. Our kids did a terrific job of this. Let your students listen for ideas.

In order for the timing to work out, it would really be wise of you to teach your jokesters to follow your cue. There should be one joke per four bar phrase. Tell them to wait till you give them the go ahead to proceed lest they finish too quickly.

If your students would prefer to substitute their own groaners for the ones we have selected, that's okay with us. As with "Lighten Up," you could have a contest to choose the best, er,... worst ones.

A final note that we probably don't even have to suggest: If you decide to use this piece in performance, be sure to add costumes.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.