Excuse Number Three: Noel Echo

script illustration for Noel Echo

 

First, the context.  As I said earlier, I formally began my tenure as a music teacher in the early 80’s, albeit as something of a hybrid (ie. part classroom, part music).  After several years of this arrangement, I was offered the option of full time music… but at two schools, my “home” school and a second (smaller) school.  At the smaller school I would be teaching all divisions (including primary).  This school was very big on musical productions so, in addition to an extracurricular choir, there was to be an intermediate (Christmas) musical and primary and junior spring presentations.  I survived that year (the two schools were some distance apart) and was able to return to my “home” school, now as music teacher of the entire school.  The next year (1990) would have the primary division responsible for the Christmas program and I decided to try my luck with a musical suitable for the season and the students involved. 

Inspiration

One of the significant aspirations for teachers of kindergarten children is that the students will sing in tune as quickly as possible.  To that end, many of the singing games and activities involve songs with limited pitches, range and complexity.  To support this objective I created several songs of my own which helped the process of tone (pitch) matching.  One was Echo Song.         

When I’m glad (when I’m glad)

When I’m sad (when I’m sad)

Then you’ll be (then you’ll be)

Same as me (same as me)

If I go (if I go)

You follow (you follow)

You will be (you will be)

My echo (my echo)

When I’m high (when I’m high)

When I’m low (when I’m low)

Going fast (going fast)

Going slow (going slow)

I said so (I said so)

Now you know (now you know)

You are my (you are my)

Echo (echo).

And the song sounded something like this…

 

 

The tune contains only four pitches (d, m, s and l) and could be used in variety of applications to practice pitch accuracy.  Why mention all this?  Just because, in my twisted thinking at that time, the song and the idea of echo might form the basis of a primary Christmas program.  Thus was born Noel Echo.

Angela, a lost echo, is befriended by another echo named Eddy.  They are separated when he decides to take a job in Rome and she reluctantly joins a “gang” of unclaimed echoes.  She refuses to be part of the gang’s mischief and is finally left alone.  Fortunately, a band of angels arrives shortly after and she is invited to participate in a very special announcement… the birth of the Christ child in Bethelem!

synopsis from the script of Noel Echo

Needless to say, the song was not only the inspiration for the story, it was also one of the songs in the production.  I think I mentioned earlier that one song from each of these shows has “stayed with me”.  I don’t know why… whatever the reason, my remembered song from Noel Echo is Angel’s Song (Glory to God).   It’s certainly simple enough, both lyrically and melodically.  I think I just picture something easy and catchy enough for the shepherds to join in with as the angels sing.  Again this is a “remake” without the eight-tone restriction of original sound card… but I’ve used a sound heard in the original recording.  There was a synth patch called fifths and it provided two notes (at fifths) for the price of one… since I was looking for echoes of an older harmonic blend (as fifths are… cf. Gregorian chant) and needed all the tones I could muster (at the time), it seemed a match “made in heaven”.  Anyway here it is (with the usual seasonal suspects… church bells and organ)…

 

 

 Oh yes, the lyrics.  What else would you expect from the angels? (the repeat can be addressed by having the angel choir sing the first time, echo choir the second time)

Hear us singing Glory to God

Glory to God in the highest

Hear us singing Glory to God

Glory to God in the highest.

(repeat)

 

Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, good will to men.

 

Hear us singing Glory to God

Glory to God in the highest

Hear us singing Glory to God

Glory to God in the highest.

 

Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, good will to men.

 

Join with us, sing Glory to God

Glory to God in the highest

Join with us, sing Glory to God

Glory to God in the highest.

 

Costuming trick… since most of the children in the production are either angels or echoes, buy oversize t-shirts (white for angels with an emblazoned A in blue on the front, blue for echoes with an emblazoned E in white on the front).  It’s (relatively) easy, inexpensive and looks effective, given the script!

student designed program for Noel Echo

They (whoever they are) say that things occur in threes.  Well, I’ve given three excuses so far and I ain’t done yet!  Stay tuned for more…

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