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This spectacular arrangement of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Broadway composer David Chase, performed live in concert by the Boston Pops Orchestra, is an educational musical masterpiece that you shouldn’t miss. Why not turn it up to orchestral volume and invite your students to dance around the house today:
January 5th is traditionally considered the last day of the Christmas season — the Twelfth Day of Christmas. In many Western cultures it’s treated as a day of revelry and celebration; it’s also often regarded as the traditional day when the Christmas tree and all the decorations come down until next year. The humorous “Twelve Days of Christmas” song, which can be traced in part at least as far back as the late 1700s, celebrates the day and has become a staple of radio broadcasts and concert hall extravaganzas across the country.
David Chase’s arrangement of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” which incorporates passages from a great variety of other works, has become an especially popular performance piece. How many of these musical quotations can you and your students identify? I can hear (at least) some children’s songs, some other Christmas carols, a Beethoven symphony, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, some dance-hall cancan music, and of course Handel’s magnificent Messiah at the end. (Did you remember the dramatic rest at the end of the Hallelujah Chorus that we pointed to last week? Did you recognize it again?)
One of the deepest purposes of a liberal education is to enable people to get jokes, and this “Twelve Days” performance teaches that happy principle. See if your students notice how the entire audience laughs when the orchestra gets to Day 5, and see if they can tell why.
What marvelous musical discoveries did you make in your homeschool during this Holiday Music Month? 🎵 🍐🌳
❡ Just how much are those French hens? Did you know you can use “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to teach economics? It’s true! The PNC Financial Services Group, a Pittsburgh-based banking firm, has for many years been publishing a whimsical Christmas Price Index that charts the total cost of all the items in the song, from twelve drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree. They even have a kids’ activity book and twelve daily crafts you can make — why not give them a try!
❡ Stay in the loop: This is one of our occasional posts on Homeschool Arts & Music. Add your name to our weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞