Don't Stop Believing (in Santa Claus)

International Musical Collaboration, Anyone?

I continually find it interesting which songs become “the Songs” in my Intro to Guitar course. Composed of grades nine-through-eleven students, the class of thirty students represents every walk of life in our suburban highschool: choir and band kids adding to their repotoire of musical genius, athletes and academic high achievers who were seeking balance between Physics, Calculus and AP History, goth kids, metal kids and everything from Taylor Swift to Train to Nirvana in between.

I print out booklets of songs suggested by the class, or which I remember being helpful when I was learning guitar (as a 22 year old, and decidedly not a natural musician), and am always surprised when songs like “Wonderwall,” “Let it Be,” and “Heart of Gold” become the Class Songs ahead of the likes of Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson (despite the fact that “Since You’ve Been Gone” contains an outstanding guitar riff lifted from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs).

Perhaps the biggest surprise of these songs has been Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Something about the chord progression (the same as in other such megahits as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Under the Bridge,” and Bush’s “Glycerine“) and the comically earnest melody performed by Steve Perry brings out an exuberance not usually seen in kids who until then had been reluctant to sing during our class jam sessions.

When it came time to assemble a group of our vocal jazz students, and a handful of guitarists and other musicians to host a Christmas sing-along during our final week of school, the initial rehearsals made it clear that a rendition of “Don’t Stop” should be worked into the set list – otherwise composed of “Winter Wonderland,” “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “All I want for Christmas (is you),” and other traditional numbers.

Shortly after, it was decided that we should change the lyrics to suit the season, leaving the vocal acrobatics, infectious piano riff and shimmering guitar solos intact. And thus was born: “Don’t Stop Believing (in Santa Claus).”

Tentative Lyrics

Just a North Pole girl, livin in a snowy world Took the magic sleigh going anywhere Just a South Pole boy, marched with a flock of penguins He took the magic sleigh going anywhere Reindeer against the moon Chevy Chase in National Lampoons Christmas Eve and I can’t sleep It goes on and on and on and on Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Their Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to get some presents Santa’s flying through the night Bein’ good to reach my goal, No one wants a lump of coal. Sending Santa the list I made Just for this day Some were bad, some were nice Some were picky ’bout their rice Oh the list don’t end It goes on and on and on and on Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Their Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to get some presents Santa’s flying through the night Don’t stop believing That Santa Claus is real Red and Green Light People

I came home from work Friday afternoon and thought I would take the opportunity to both hone the lyrics to our budding Christmas Carol and experiment with Google Wave, and posted this message on Google’s new revelation to a group of teachers, technologists and bloggers whom Malcolm Gladwell might characterize as Mavens or Connectors:

Song Parodists Seek Collaborators

Here’s an idea for a wave: In preparation for a Christmas sing along in Gleneagle’s front hall, a group of vocal jazz and other music students are rewriting the original lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” We plan to record our live performance, and share it via the web. It would be pretty cool if others were to join in here as well… international musical collaboration, anyone? Feel free to add suggestions where they may be necessary, or include others in the project by invite whom you feel would be able to contribute to a project of this nature. So far, members of this wave are: Bryan Jackson – guitar teacher at Gleneagle Secondary. Jeff H. – guitar student (and student ensemble co-leader) at Gleneagle. Elaan Bauder – teacher in Coquitlam, and co-conspirator in Waves and technology;  Lindsay Jackson – Bryan’s sister, and documentary filmmaker living in Coquitlam. Sue Waters – Edublogs.org’s own Sue Waters was looking for a Wave to join over the weekend, I heard. Plus, it would be cool if Sue had musical connections in Australia… Dave Truss – SD43 Teacher & Administrator currently living and working in China with his family. Dean Shareski – Originally invited Bryan to Google Wave, and knows a heck of a lot about shar(eski)ing things through video. Jeff Utecht – Former West Coaster living in Thailand, where he works with a great many classrooms at an International School that would no doubt be a great addition to the proceedings.

With connectors already on three continents, I sent out a request to my Twitter network “seeking #music teachers who would be interested in a collaborative student performance.” Within a few hours I had three more responses, adding teachers in Comox Valley, BC, Philadelphia, Pa, and Vancouver, BC to our ranks.

As this swell develops into an outright wave, I am thinking that we need to run with this. That Google Wave needs to be a blog post, and our performance and development of the song must be shared. In the two weeks left before (our) school lets out for the winter break, it would be something to create a movement that could encircle the globe. Whether that means synchronized, streamed performances, or collaborative recording and video-editing, Skypes and other forms of communication, we will have to see. With the publishing of this post it seems that the direction is no longer mine, or even the small collection of students’ who developed the idea and have spent the last few lunch hours rehearsing in my classroom.

It is everyone’s.

Help up spread the word by ReTweeting this post, and have potential collaborators contact me or search for our public Wave by entering the following in a Google Wave search box:

with: public Song Parodists Seek Collaborators

I haven’t tried that search yet… I will update this post as I recieve feedback on the Wave being reach-able or not.