Holiday Hoedown

by John Riggio

Here's a fun song to perform for your winter (or other seasonal) program. It's a nonsense kind of tune whose entire goal is to be silly. Additionally, it is completely secular, so it should work in most settings.

There are four verses, but the melody is very repetitive and easy to learn. The most difficult part of the piece might be the rhythm on the chorus, which contains a series of two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note. However, once your students learn it, it should come easily to them, as the words flow well with this rhythm.

A good setting for a performance of this song would be a barnyard during winter. So if you have the means, put a pile or two of hay on stage, and a pile or two of snow-like material (confetti or the like). Also have cardboard or plastic farm implements, like pitchforks or hoes, for a few of your performers. If the holiday you're wanting to focus on is Christmas, add a Christmas tree or other Christmas decorations. Or have a variety of decorations suitable to your situation.

Your students should dress in the appropriate garb, of course - overalls, jeans, bandannas, cowboy boots, etc. They might also want to complement their wardrobe with hats, scarves, and mittens. This is a holiday hoedown, after all.

There are all sorts of sound effects in this piece, some are part of the music (background tracks), and some are kid-generated. It also lends itself well to live performance. Especially if you have a decent piano player. Guitar, bass, and drums help, too. (FYI: That funny sounding guitar you'll hear on the CD is called a dobro. It has a neat resonant sliding sound. Sandy just picked it up prior to our session and was hoping to have a chance to use it. Leave it to us to come up with the opportunity!)

Many of the performance ideas for "Holiday Hoedown" are self-explanatory - pinch your nose, bend your knees, pull your earlobes, etc. Here are a few more ideas:

At measure 10, verse 4: On the CD, we created the "smoosh your face" effect by grabbing our cheeks and pulling them away from the gums, then pushing them back in. Repeat this in rapid succession. The effect is pretty funny with a whole room of kids doing it!

At measure 17: Have your performers "whoop and holler," that is, make lots of joyous noise and say things like "wahoo!," "yeehah!," "yippee!," etc. If they have cowboy hats on, they can wave them over their heads and jump around. This happens at the end of the piece also, and might be a nice way to have students leave the stage, whoopin' and hollerin' as they go.

For "Dive into a big ol' pile of hay": Pick one person to yell "Whee!" and jump into a pile of hay. Have him jump carefully, depending on how big the pile is!

For "Watch out for that avalanche of snow!": Have a bucket of confetti or other snow-like substance ready, and dump it on one of your performers, or if you prefer, have them dodge the avalanche. Either way, have them exclaim "Ahh!" at the prospect of snow being dropped on them.

For "Don't you dump your partner on the floor!": Have all performers on stage shake their index fingers and say "No!"

For "Ev'ryone will be all tuckered out!": Have everyone say "Whew!," and maybe have a few folks collapse on piles of hay or banks of snow on stage.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.