William Tell's Overshirt

by Paul Jennings with apologies to Gioacchino Rossini

I sit here writing these notes on my birthday. (I'll let you do the math...) And it takes me back to my youth to remember that many Christmases I received a funny record as a present. One of the early ones was Spike Jones' "William Tell Overture." That may tell you a lot, as wacky music has always been something I enjoy.

My take on Rossini's famous overture is in the form of a "quodlibet," the definition of which you can read on my ongoing section of the magazine. (See page 66.) I think that this is the second of this form I've published in Music K-8. (The first was "Eine Kleine Kazoo Musik" in Volume 6.) I like to take a favorite classical piece and sprinkle it with tunes the kids will know. In this case, it includes "Yankee Doodle," "Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho," and "You're A Grand Old Flag."

We use this concoction to let your students have a go at kazoos, Boomwhackers® and/or mallets, as well as a pile of percussion instruments. I should say right here that ANY of these parts can be adapted for your needs, and we encourage you to modify the piece in any way that works for you. You can do this work with all of the instruments, or almost none if you like! The recorded tracks cover most things, and the holes can be filled with whatever you have in your classroom. For your convenience, we have included a reduced piano/instrument score in this issue, but if you want the full-size version, you can easily get it on our web site. You will also find the Kazoo II part there, which is an easy alternative for younger players. (See details following.)

Kazoos - If you have used any of our works that use kazoos, you know that I could fill the page with suggestions. I will suffice it to say just a few things, though. First - when you first pass them out, let the kids go crazy for a while to get it out of their system. Even in the studio with young professionals we do this because when you hand a kid a kazoo, they just want to play it!

If you haven't used kazoos before, here are the basics: Don't assume that kids will automatically know what to do. For instance, many will try to put the kazoo in their mouth or blow in it. Instead, they should form a singing embouchure as though they are going to sing "oh" or "ooh" and keep their lips relaxed. Then, putting the short end to their lips, they should hum (not blow) against the end of the kazoo. The sound is produced by sympathetic vibrations causing the waxed paper in the resonator channel to move along with the humming. For the best results, try using the syllables "doo" for longer tones and "doot" for shorter, more staccato notes. Practice these when warming up to be sure that everyone is doing it correctly. For more suggestions, search for "kazoo" in our IDEA BANK (on MusicK8.com) where you will find many helpful hints including our full-length description of how to make your own.

Boomwhackers® - We assume here that you know how to use them if you have them, but again, for hints, do a search on our web site for other Boomwhackers® tunes and in the IDEA BANK.

Most important, let me reinforce that you should have a good time with this and adapt it for your situation. And if you stage this for performance, have your performers act very formally as they play, maybe in mock tuxes if you want to get fancy. - PJ

Online extras - The free, downloadable extras mentioned can be found under the Graphics and Extras for Volume 20, No. 1 at MusicK8.com

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.