Mi Perro Loco (My Crazy Dog)

by Paul Jennings

Yes, we've all had crazy dogs from time to time, or perhaps had friends with one. Maybe it's something in the air or water, but there seems to be a rash of crazy dogs living with our friends at Plank Road. But crazy dogs are a necessity of life. Otherwise, what would YouTube™ do? Or America's Funniest Home Videos? (Note: If you want to add your own doggies, we have provided instrumental tracks with and without the pups.)

Anyway... This song is also an homage to Herbie Hancock's great 16-bar blues, "Watermelon Man." Or at least a few of the arrangements of that tune, as this one is a nice laid-back Latin jazz tune, scored for big band with a nice contingent of percussion, including congas, shakers, timbales (which you will hear in the intro), and guiro (which arrive in the second half of the tune).

The recorder is only required to play A, B, and C since the tune has slightly more complicated rhythms than some younger students are used to reading. Specifically, that is the rhythm in bar 6 and bar 10 - quarter rest, follow by two eighth notes, followed by the syncopated eighth note, dotted quarter pattern. If you think this is too much, you can replace the last two beats of these bars with two quarter notes.

A Little Jazz? - While this tune does not call for much improvisation, it may provide you a chance to do some simple jazz work with your class if you like. And it's ideal in that you can use those same three notes to let your kids improvise a bit. Some quick basic rules:

- Listen a little. - Play a few favorite jazz recordings for the kids. If you don't have any, try one of the versions of "Watermelon Man" you will find on iTunes like Mongo Santamaria's. If you have tried improvising yourself, demonstrate a little in class.

- Keep it simple. - Line the students up, and as you play the instrumental version of the tune, go from student to student, letting them play a bar or two on cue. Encourage them. Any effort is a good one. There are no bad jazz solos... at least at this stage. Just stepping up and playing is tough for many kids. The more they play, the more they will relax and improve. Among the many things that jazz improvisation promotes is a sense of independence, and it opens them up to try new things as a performer.

More resources. - To help you with your study of the tracks, a reduced score is available on our web site for download. And if you enjoy this arrangement and would like to find much more fine recorder programming, listen to the music available in our new magazine, RECORDER CLASSROOM. In the first and the third issues of this year we offer much more detailed lessons for teaching kids to improvise on their recorders. You will find details and sound samples at RecorderClassroom.com

Online extras - The free, downloadable score mentioned can be found under the "Graphics and Extras" for Volume 19, No. 4 at MusicK8.com

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.