Submitted by Gretchen Taylor, Illinois

Idea posted August 19, 2002

I use this little ditty with my 8th graders to get their attention and refresh various body percussion, among other things (I don't know if I can accurately transcribe it here, but I'll try). Here are the words and actions first:

On a day like this (clap, clap)

On a day like this (clap, clap)

On a day like this (clap) Oh......

I need the Lord (or "a friend") to help me (clap).

After this initial singing and clapping, you repeat the song with claps, but add another action like pats right after the claps like this: clap, clap, pat, pat.

BUT add only 1 of each after the 3rd and 4th phrases: clap, pat. Be sure also to sing right on the Oh.... wherever it may fall beat-wise (it WILL feel off-meter at times). With each singing, add a new action each time up to as many actions as YOU can remember, hee hee. Ex:

clap, clap, pat, pat, snap, snap, stomp, stomp, etc.

What makes it fun is the accumulation of actions AND the parts where they only do one of each (that's where the "twist" comes 'cause they really have to think). And believe me, I had to practice this myself first many times (so I don't look like a total doofus). I'll often go on to add things like boing boing (dribbling ball action), toot toot (push car horn action), or whatever else we come up with.

Also, hold the "Oh..." for a good while (fermata) for dramatic effect (and to let those who didn't quite get the single pattern sequence catch up).

OK, now for the rhythm... here's a symbol key first:

ee (two eighths)

q (quarter note)

h. (dotted half note)

q. e (dotted quarter followed by eighth)

w (whole note with fermata)

Swing the eighth notes and begin the first three phrases with a two ee upbeat. The last phrase begins right on the first beat. The song is in 4/4...

ee h. q q (clap, clap)

ee h. q q (clap, clap)

ee h. q q (clap) w...

q ee q. e q q (clap)

Now for the melody... ('s' means low so)

'ss' d. 's' d (clap, clap)

dd m. d m (clap, clap)

dm s. l s (clap) f....

m md r. t d d (clap)

Now, the way I first present this to my 8ths is first I just ask them to echo sing the phrases (no actions), and we talk briefly about phrase form (how are they alike, different, melodically & rhythmically). Then I'll throw in the first action (claps). After they've got it, I ask them to name the other levels of body percussion (which I'll write on the board). Then I'll ask them to place them in order from softest to loudest (snap, pat, clap, stomp). We'll review some dynamic signs by assigning a sign to a level (snap = p, pat = mp, clap = mf, stomp = f). Next, we'll go back to singing the song, but I'll ask someone to choose another action from the board. We'll then add this to the sequence, following the dynamic changes carefully, and so on until all four levels are used. If they're doing it all really well, that's when we'll throw in some of their own ideas (boing, toot, etc.). That's it for day one.

In our next session, we'll review the song, but I'll let them choose the order (body percussion first, then their own ideas). Often, we'll transfer the b. percussion to unpitched instruments trying to match them to the corresponding dynamic levels and quality of the b. perc. (A good review of the unp. instrument families, too.) Some kids even want to hold a contest to see who can keep the longest sequence going. :)

That's it! I'll often hear the 8ths on the playground doing this song (hard to believe isn't it - 8ths!!!). After this, we don't usually come back to it except once in a while during the year, I'll start in to get their attention (kind of like the ta ta titi ta clap that's used in this way).

Hope you can figure it out.