Awesome # 338: Songwriting

With our school’s Christmas concert rapidly approaching, I began our daily concert practice last week. We started with a class in which I had my students listen to a few Christmas carols I’d pre-selected – “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – and vote on the one they most wanted to perform.

After listening to the two selections, I said “Raise your hand if you want to sing ‘Jingle Bell Rock'”. Nobody moved. “Okay, raise your hand if you want to sing ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree'”. Again, nobody moved. I started again – “Hmm…we have to choose one or the other. Let’s try again. Raise your hand if…”

“We want to sing ‘Gangnam Style’!” H exclaimed. “Yeeeaaaaahhhhh!” the rest chimed in.

‘Gangnam Style’ – the K-Pop song that seems to have gone viral internationally – is popular to the point of obsession in Nunavik. In Tasiujaq, you’ll find its catchy beat constantly resonating from the headphones of students on free time in the computer lab, and students imitating PSY’s amusing dance moves left, right and centre – in the classroom, in the hallways, and awkwardly on the playground in their parka and boots on snow and ice. At least in Tasiujaq, ‘Gangnam Style’ wins title of song of the year, by a landslide.

I explained that ‘Gangnam Style’ is neither a Christmas song nor an English song (and since we’re an English class, we should sing a song that’s at least partially in English).

Their disappointment was blatant. They refused to either vote on one of the 2 songs I’d pre-selected, and they were unwilling to even help me find another they wanted to sing. At a loss, I chose a song for them and led my reluctant group through a round of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ before the bell rang to go home.

That night, reconsidering the situation, as I’d anticipated 2 weeks of daily concert practice full of much the same reluctance, I decided to try re-writing ‘Gangnam Style’ into a Christmas song. The week before, I’d started rewriting some other popular songs, and using others already written in Math class to teach difficult concepts such as long division and subtraction with borrowing, and seeing as my students had responded quite well to those song, I figured they might enjoy this.

They did.

They’ve since negotiated with me to sing ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ if they could also sing ‘¡Feliz Navidad!” (I think they realized just how tricky a song ‘Gangnam Style’ – even ‘Christmas Gangnam Style’ would be to sing in front of the whole community). Nevertheless, it was a fun song to write.

Songwriting is a fun awesome I’d discovered recently – while writing both ‘Christmas Gangnam Style’ and the Math songs. It’s an awesome that I hope to integrate far more into my teaching in the new year in that, seeing how my students have responded to all of the music I’ve been using in my classroom as of late, it’s an awesome that has great affective and educational power.

Now, for the fun of it and because it’s no longer a Christmas concert surprise, I’ll share with you my Christmas rendition of ‘Gangnam Style’:

Christmas Gangnam Style

Christmas Gangnam style
Gangnam style

It’s Christmas time
And us kids are all excited
We’ve got joy all around
And everyone’s invited
To get together and celebrate this special day
Merry Christmas to you we say

Happy holidays!
It’s time for music and a big feast
Happy holidays!
Christmas cheer is in the north east
Happy holidays!
The presents matter of all the least
Happy holidays!
Happy holidays!

Merry Christmas, from all of us
We’re happy elves, with jingle bells
Merry Christmas, from all of us
Hop in our sleigh, we know the way
We’ll find Santa, Frosty, Rudolph and his gang

For Christmas Gangnam style
Gangnam Style
Ho, ho, ho, ho Christmas Gangnam style
Gangnam Style
Ho, ho, ho, ho Christmas Gangnam style

Heeeeeeeeeey Merry Christmas!
Ho, ho, ho, ho Christmas Gangnam style
Heeeeeeeeeey Merry Christmas!
Ho, ho, ho, ho
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Christmas Gangnam style
Gangnam Style

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