In The Spirit

by Teresa Jennings/arr. Paul Jennings

Over the years we've learned that kids just love big band jazz tunes, especially the up tempo variety. So, that's just what we're bringing them for this holiday season. This very lively swing tune is a mixture of familiar textures and riffs, lovingly parodied from favorite tunes. (We affectionately nicknamed it "In The Mood Meets Bandstand Boogie At Christmas.")

Despite the busy and complex rhythm and big band instrumental tracks on the recording, the vocal part is actually pretty simple. It's also quite infectious. Let your students listen and then sing along with our singers to pick it up more quickly and learn the style. There are a few vocal slides and falls, but they are very natural and easy to do. Most of the song is unison, but there are a few divisis. You can use them or not, as you wish.

It's very easy to imagine movement to this song. Old-fashioned swing era dancing would be quite appropriate. If you have any dancers in your midst, consider featuring them with this tune as a backdrop at your holiday concert. At the very least, let students sway side to side with the beat as they sing. Maybe have them lift their shoulders to the beat, alternating right and left. Add snaps on 2 and 4, if you like. Or throw in a little bit of the classic index-finger-pointing-up-or-down-to-the-beat a la 1940 or so. During the section that starts at measure 30, have them sing their phrases, then put their hands to their ears to "listen" to the reply from the band each time.

As an extension of this song, invite students to listen to old recordings of similar tunes. The Glenn Miller version of "In The Mood" is definitely worth sharing, as is the classic Barry Manilow chart, "Bandstand Boogie." If you really want to go deep, have them compare and contrast these tunes with "In The Spirit." How are they similar? How are they different? (Note: You can quickly find both of these on iTunes.)

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.