Christmas

When everyone thinks of Christmas, there is a song that always starts in their heads, a song that has been adapted worldwide and has become part of the Christmas spirit, this is “Jingle Bells”.

It’s interesting to think that this composition has been able to stay alive for so many years, every year it comes as if it’s tradition in the whole world to sing or listen to this song, but as many stories, few people know the story of this important piece of music, and what better opportunity to learn about its origin than a few days before Christmas.

James L. Pierpont

Christmas

Pierpont, the composer, was born in 1822, and his composition was released in 1857, however it wasn’t called “Jingle Bells” it was “One Horse Open Sleigh” but it was later changed to it’s current name due to it being a bit more family friendly.

Pierpont was a man of the Confederacy, at the time the civil war was very much alive in America. While his father and brother were fiercely against slavery, Pierpont became a supporter of the Confederacy.

When his brother was forced to close his church and return to the North in 1859 due to his abolitionist preaching, Pierpont remained in Savannah. When war broke out, he enlisted with the 1st Georgia Cavalry and served as a company clerk. His father, meanwhile, served on the Union side as chaplain of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry. During the Civil War, Pierpont wrote Confederate anthems including “Strike for the South,” “We Conquer, or Die!” and “Our Battle Flag!” The songwriter remained in Georgia after the war and lived out his final years in Florida before his death in 1893

History.com

This song was also not supposed to be a Christmas song, in fact, the lyrics never mention the word “Christmas”. It was originally intended as a song for Thanksgiving but it made it’s way into Christmas when it was included in the first Christmas record in 1889.

Lyrics (A Christmas Song?)

[Verse 1]
Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 2]
A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 3]
A day or two ago
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
But quickly drove away

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 4]
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you’ll take the lead

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

Jingle Bells Throughout The Years

While Piermont dedicated most of his life to the church and his family, his efforts as a musician have brought joy to people around the world during Christmas holidays, even though its melody changed a little bit from the original, and many versions have been made by many artists, the core of the song is still the same.

Original

Modern (Sinatra)

Bobby Helms

Many more versions exists out there, and even though the original intention was not to invoke the Christmas spirit, today, no song is more popular for this time of year than “Jingle Bells”.

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I have been using Music Teachers Helper to support my music teaching business since 2008.  Its  exciting to see the changes over the years which add to it’s effectiveness as my office support.

During this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank MTH for being innovative in listening to the needs of its customers and for  providing us with what we need to make our job easier. What music teacher wants to spend time on scheduling and bookkeeping when we could be searching for music and creating an exciting environment for our students?

This is the first article in a series of how I use MTH creatively, in ways perhaps not intended by the software itself. If you look back on my previous blogs you will see that is my forte (no pun intended).

MTH calendar showing NO LESSON days

MTH calendar showing NO LESSON days

Customer questions about schedule around the holidays

As easily accessible as is the MHT calendar, I get numerous emails from students asking about the days no lesson will be held as we approach holidays. These questions come despite the web calendar and email reminders about days lessons will not be held. [···]

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Based on a Novel Idea by Wendy Stevens.

In her recent website newsletter, Wendy Stevens described a holiday project she designed. She asked her piano students to learn the theme of the “Jingle Bell” chorus and create a variation. Each arranger was filmed debuting his/her arrangement and made into a lovely video.

Fortunately, Wendy shares her marvelous teaching ideas and inspirations on her unique website www.composecreate.com. Subscribing to her free newsletter provides me with numerous ideas and resources. I must give full credit to her for the subject of this blog and am so thankful to find her as a continual resource of inspiration.

The Plot

When preparing for the upcoming holiday recital, lesson time can be zapped by ironing out wrinkles in performance pieces or drilling the performance etiquette routine. Little time is left for covering new concepts or new pieces. This calls for an assignment that captures the students’ attention, challenges their creativity and that can be accomplished in a short amount of time.

 The Production

The following steps were taken to prepare students:

1) A lead sheet featuring the melody and chord symbols was reviewed. Early level students were provided with a simple LH version.

2)  For inspiration, students were asked to listen to Mozart’s Twelve Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman” and follow along with the score. Next they watched the youtube video of Wendy’s students. (As I offer 30-minute lessons with a 30-minute lab time, this was assigned during the lab time and did not take away from lesson time.) [···]

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