I’m trying to arrange percussion parts for the Nativity/carol service at the end of term, and I will have NO TIME to practice with the children until the last few days before the event…. notice the state of my nails!
I’m so glad that learning to play ostinato accompaniments was a big theme of this term’s class music teaching (this was long before I had any inkling of this church service coming up).
This is what I have got together so far;
a small team of two “woodblockers” playing the rhythm of the phrase “Little Donkey” throughout the verses,
another pair of children armed with jingle sticks keeping the pulse. That’s the clopping hooves and the jingling harness.
When it comes to “Ring out those bells tonight, Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Follow that star tonight, Bethlehem, Bethlehem”, another team of children are playing the tune, which is “8 8 8 7 6 5, 6 765, 6 765” assuming that you are in C major, and the children are using those rather nice little chime bar sets in C major where the bars are lettered C D E F G A B C and numbered 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. The advantage of using numbers is that the children will select the correct “C”. I’m hoping that having several children playing the chimes means that some kind of consensus will overlay the errors that will creep in from time to time.
“We Three Kings”
I am enlivening all the verses with different percussion instruments keeping the pulse throughout: jingles again for the first verse (harness sounds), triangles for verse 2 (sort of clinking of gold coins, maybe?), tambourines, shaken, not bashed, for incense in verse three, and shakers – ganzas, in fact, for verse 4 which is myrrh and rather gloomy. There was a bit of a scrum for the cymbals among the group of players; a GENTLE tap on the cymbal accents the word “STAR” in each chorus. Judging by the first run-through this afternoon I may have to be very selective when choosing who is to be relied upon to go for “mysterious” rather than “bright” when playing the cymbals.