Shake It Up!

by Teresa Jennings/arr. Paul Jennings

We've kept the vocals of this rhythmic Latin big band tune to a minimum so that we could focus on the important stuff - the percussion! The tune introduces various small non-pitched percussion instruments, one at a time. Then it allows them to establish a groove, first as a feature, and then as a part of the ensemble on the recording. The instruments we suggest are named right in the lyrics. (FYI: The "fishie" is a guiro, or fish, as many teachers call it, since guiro might be hard to pronounce.) The patterns we suggest for each instrument to play once they get into their groove at measure 23 are indicated at the bottom of the music on page 29. Of course, these patterns are optional. Change or adapt any of the rhythms for any of the instruments as you like. For example, make the shake on the tambourine optional or change its pattern entirely. In fact, the entire form of the percussion in the tune can be altered if it suits your needs. One idea for this is indicated at measure 45: Have all the percussion stop until the repeat of measure 9. Or maybe change their pattern there.

As mentioned, each instrument is introduced individually at first. The singers say the name of the instrument and it plays a simple solo which is indicated on the music. These sounds are easily heard on the recording for reference. This only occurs the first time, however. On the D.S., the instruments are engaged in playing their groove. You could still choose to highlight an instrument as it's named by having the player step forward or raise her instrument above her head, etc.

To make things more doable, especially for younger groups, you might be wise to have separate singers and players. That way, each group can focus on its own parts. Keep in mind, too, that you don't want to have too many of any one kind of instrument - like 8 cowbells out of 20 players - lest you have an unbalanced sound.

Naturally, you are not limited to our suggested instruments. You can add or substitute anything you like, such as woodsticks, claves, triangle, cabasa, jingles, agogo bells, samba whistle, etc. Invent patterns for them as well.

As you might suspect, we think the recording is the best way to use this song. It has that same wonderful big band we used in the first song of this issue. Especially of note is the nylon guitar solo played by guitarist Sandy Williams. Would you believe that was his first take?

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.