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Notes from a small workshop - anecdotes & musings from the workbench
Haynes woodwind maintenance manuals

Jazz nursery rhymes



Ever since the very first baby started screaming at 2 o' clock in the morning every parent has recognised the value of soothing songs and rhymes as an aid to comforting a fractious infant - and every culture around the world has its own set of ditties, passed down over the generations.
In parts of Africa parents will sing to their children of the creatures of the plains, in Norway they sing about the relationship between mothers and daughters, and in Ireland they sing a lot about Killarney...and Dublin...and shellfish. Mind you, in England we like to get our children off to sleep with songs and rhymes about poorly built bridges and various nasty diseases.
I suppose there's some educational value in these regional rhymes - it's important for a child living out in the African bush to know what dangers might be present as much as it's important for an Irish child to know where Dublin is, and when it's safe to eat cockles - and it could be said that the repeating of these songs and rhymes over the years imprints the children with information that might be useful in later life.

So it occurred to me that if you felt your child had any sort of musical ability, and perhaps some leanings towards the jazz idiom (sleeps all day, makes a lot of noise at night; likes their milk with a 'chaser'; shakes a rattle in 5/4 time; has a teddy bear called 'Prez') then it might be as well to encourage and educate them in these early days via the medium of suitable nursery rhymes.
But where are they?
Well, there aren't any - or at least there weren't until now.

Here, for all you jazz parents, is possibly the world's first collection of jazz nursery rhymes!

Jack Spratt could play no jazz
his wife could play no blues,
so between them both they formed a duo
and cleaned up playing schmooz.

Oh this grand old Dukoff's coarse,
it squawks just like a hen,
I've played it up to the top of the horn
and I've played it down again.
And when it is flat it is flat,
and when it is sharp it is sharp,
and when it is neither sharp or flat
I still sound like a clown.

You tak' the high note and I'll tak' the low,
and I'll be in subtone afore ye -
but me and my true love will never meet again
'cos some bugger nicked my horn from the bandroom.

Yankee Doodle did a gig
on his slide tromboney,
couldn't play a bleedin' note,
turns out he is a phoney.

Half a bar repeated twice,
half a bar of three-four.
That's the way the melody goes,
Pop! goes the reader.

Little Miss Muffet
didn't half fluff it
whenever she sat down to play.
The guy sat beside her
couldn't abide her
and blew poor Miss Muffet away.

Ring-a-ring a-rider
a bandroom full of cider.
Six pints, seven pints,
we all fall down.

Old Freddie Hubbard went to the cupboard
to get his poor trumpet a mute.
When he got there, the cupboard was bare,
so he used an old sock and a boot.

One, two, three four five,
I can't play this 5/4 jive.
Six, seven, eight nine ten
I won't play this tune again.
I'll have to let it go
because it hurts my fingers so.
I think it's bloody shite
I'll give it the finger on my right.

Sing a song of six bars, turn the amps up high
four and twenty kilowatts, makes you wanna cry.
When the venue opened the band began to sing,
oh isn't this a lousy gig, can't hear a bloody thing.

Eeny meeny miny mo
pick a dep and hear him blow.
If he fluffs it, let him go
eeny meeny miny mo.

Blah blah, crib sheet,
hate to play this drool.
Yes sir, yes sir,
we know "Daddy Cool".
No tune a blaster,
every song is lame,
I wish I'd got a proper job
I'm fed up of this game.

Jack and Jill went up the bill
faster than they oughta.
Jack played down and lost his crown
and Jill came fumbling after.

Doctor Foster gigged in Gloucester
tried to play Coltrane,
he got in a muddle and fluffed up the middle
and never gigged there again.

One two, watching my cue
Three four, reading the score
Five six, I got my licks
Seven eight, came in too late

Twinkle twinkle Conn Crossbar
How I wonder where you are.
Sold on ebay, price so high,
bought it from some foreign guy.
Twinkle twinkle Conn Crossbar
How I wonder where you are.

Mary Mary, Conn Chu Berry
how does your hobby grow?
With silver bells and musty smells
and old horns all in a row.

There was an old pro called Michael Finnegan
he grew whiskers on his King again
it smelt so bad he didn't gig again
poor old Michael Finnegan, he's skint again.

Little Jack Horner stood in the corner
watching his cue to blow.
His solo has come
but he's played like a bum,
they won't book him again for this show.

This little alto's got mark on it,
this little tenor has none,
this little bari has no biffs
and this little bass has some,
and this little soprano went squeek squeek squeek
all the way home.

This is the sax that Jack blew.

This is the fall that broke the sax that Jack blew.

This is the stand that held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

This is the drunk that kicked the stand
That held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

This is the beer that mashed the drunk
That kicked the stand
That held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

This is the guy who ran the bar
That served the beer that mashed the drunk
That kicked the stand
That held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

These are the guests, all lah-di-dah
That flocked to the guy who ran the bar
That served the beer that mashed the drunk
That kicked the stand
That held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

This is the speech that went too far
That bored the guests, all lah-di-dah
That flocked to the guy who ran the bar
That served the beer that mashed the drunk
That kicked the stand
That held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

This is the Groom, a Henry Hoorah
That gave the speech that went too far
That bored the guests, all lah-di-dah
That flocked to the guy who ran the bar
That served the beer that mashed the drunk
That kicked the stand
That held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

This is the Bride, maternity bra
That married the Groom, a Henry Hoorah
That gave the speech that went too far
That bored the guests, all lah-di-dah
That flocked to the guy who ran the bar
That served the beer that mashed the drunk
That kicked the stand
That held the horn before the fall
That broke the sax that Jack blew.

 

Copyright © Stephen Howard Woodwind 2015