An Old-Fashioned Holiday
by Teresa & Paul Jennings
Paul and Teresa had a wonderful time working with this tune. Created as a homage to all those marvelous old Christmas ballads of long ago, the tune refers gently to pieces of lyrics here and there (not necessarily all from ballads) that most of us will recognize. We're hoping that the tune will also inspire teachers to introduce their students to some of those old traditional tunes if they are not already familiar with them. Indeed, we found out when we were working with our singers that some of them knew of these songs and some did not. Songs like "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "The Christmas Song" (a.k.a. "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire"), "Home For The Holidays," "White Christmas," and so on, are classic American contributions to the holiday spirit. To our way of thinking, they should be familiar to everyone.
The lush progressions and orchestrations are right up Paul's alley as you will hear. He is a master at putting together that certain sound of nostalgia which is so integral to this piece. (He tells us that in a "former life" he has written arrangements of most of the old classics like these for jazz ensembles and orchestras alike, so this was a treat for him.)
While we feel that the string orchestra and acoustic rhythm section on the recording are perfect for performance, we would certainly understand if you wanted to perform this piece live with piano. The piano part is delightfully fun for any capable player. Of course, if you have your own acoustic bass player, drummer, and guitarist (preferably playing an F hole or arch top guitar), then you definitely want to do it live. In fact, we were so enamored with the idea of performing it the way one of the popular vocal artists of the '30s or '40s might have, that we actually included such a version on the recording (plus the accompaniment tracks). We asked our soloist, Katy Gentry, to sing along with our "jazz combo" in a free style. As you can hear, they all did a wonderful job. If you have any crooners in your midst, you might want to feature them in this way. Let them listen to old recordings of such singers as Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, and Bing Crosby, to name a few.
The full chorus version of this tune is also pretty dang nice. It's a simple melody to learn and very, very memorable. (We couldn't stop singing it when we were working on it!) The most difficult challenge for some singers might be the lyrics. Consider using the lyric sheets or student parts to help them learn faster, or even to use in performance.
One other nice thing about this piece is that it is non-holiday specific. Though it inspires that warm and fuzzy seasonal feeling and does mention many familiar elements of the season, it never says anything about any one holiday or another. Since we have had so many requests for songs that can be used in a secular, non-specific way during the holidays, we thought this one would be an excellent choice.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.