Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Teddy Bears’ Picnic, A Singable Picture Book

Posted on: April 12, 2011

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Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Words by Jimmy Kennedy
Music by John W. Bratton
Illustrated by Alexandra Day
Published by Scholastic Inc., New York, NY, 1983
ISBN 0-439-39622-0

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The Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Words by Jimmy Kennedy
Music by John W. Bratton
Illustrated by Michael Hague

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The Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Words and Music by Jimmy Kennedy
Illustrated by Michael Hague
ISBN 978-0-8050-5349-4
(This is the large, trade paperback edition)
McMillan Publishing webpage for this book:
http://199.168.12.107/theteddybearspicnic/JimmyKennedy

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The Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Words by Jimmy Kennedy
Music by John W. Bratton
Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

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“Teddy Bear’s Picnic” has become a favorite at “Sing Books with Emily” gatherings.  This is a song with a great sense of humor and gobs of personality, imagination, and musical range.  I love how it goes from sounding ominous and sneaking into the splendor of Calliope.  It is surprisingly adaptable song.  You will find recordings in styles ranging from Jazz to Carnival created for instruments from cello quartets, voice and piano, to brass bands.  The fun is endless.

“Teddy Bear’s Picnic” was written in 1907 with music by John W. Bratton and words by Jimmy Kennedy.

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Read a biography of composer John W. Bratton (1867-1947), here:
http://www.bear-teddy.com/biography-john-w-bratton.html

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Read a biography of lyricist Jimmy Kennedy (1902-1984), here:
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/amusic/jimmykennedy.html

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The Teddy Bears’ Picnic
Words by Jimmy Kennedy
Music by John W. Bratton

If you go down to the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You’d better go in disguise.

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain because
Today’s the day that teddy bears have their picnic.

Every teddy bear who’s been good
Is sure of a treat today.
There’s lost of marvelous things to eat
And wonderful games to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees
They’ll hide and seek as long as they please
Cause that’s the way that teddy bears have their picnic.

If you go down to the woods today
You’d better not go alone.
It’s lovely down in the woods today
But safer to stay at home.

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain because
Today’s the day that teddy bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for teddy bears!
The little teddy bears are heaving a lovely time today.
Watch them!  Catch them unawares!
And see them picnic on thier holiday.

See them gaily gad about.
They love to play and shout
They never have any cares!

At 6 O’clock their mommies and daddies
Will take them all to bed
Because they’re tired little teddy bears.

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Videos of Recordings:

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Orchestral recording of John W. Bratton’s composition, written in 1907 as an instrumental piece (words were not added by Irishman Jimmy Kennedy until 1932):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q59acyzO6o4

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YouTube of a 1932 recording with Val Rosing singing with Harry Hall and His Orchestra:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZANKFxrcKU

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A version with cello quartet

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utlA9YbVoFY

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With brass band and TUBA solo:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4eOukqLR3s

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I enjoy this brass band verion one, too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqZEKtO-8pc

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Tidbit from “History of the Teddy Bear,”
http://www.theteddybearmuseum.com/teddy-facts.htm

1907: Music of the famous song, The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, written by American composer J.K. Bratton.  Originally called The Teddy Bear Two Step.

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Interesting Wikipedia article, here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teddy_Bears’_Picnic

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“Teddy Bear’s Picnic” is also mentioned in this Wiki article about the Teddy Bear:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teddy_bear

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Sing-Along with the lyrics and a midi instrumental, here:
http://www.northern-pine.com/songs/tbpicnic.html

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Here are two of my favorite recordings:

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Pure Imagination
Michael Feinstein
“Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is Track 3

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Stolen Gems
James Campbell & Allegri String Quartet
“Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is Track 15

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“Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is one of the songs we selected to be part of
Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret.”

Completing my Song Craft Worksheet is part of my process for working on songs for performance:


 Emily’s Song Craft Worksheet

Because the first section of the Song Craft Worksheet involves background research on the song, I’ll share the answers with you so you can know about the song, too.  The more about the song you know (both concrete facts and less tangible artistic choices), the more “authority,” and heart and soul you can put into the singing and sharing of the song with others.  If you are interested in improving your artistic abilities for singing songs in any capacity, just simply filling out the Song Craft Worksheet is a great place to start!  After the background research, the rest of the Song Craft Worksheet gets VERY personal…don’t worry!  I won’t bore you with that.

1 Q: Who wrote the words?
1 A: Jimmy Kennedy (Irish Songwriter, 1902-1984)

2Q: Who wrote the music?
2A: John. W. Bratton (American Composer, 1867-1947)

3Q: When was the song written?
3A: The music was written in 1907 (under the original title “Teddy Bear Two Step”) and Jimmy Kennedy wrote lyrics for the song in 1932

4Q: At what point in the lyricists’ and composer’s career was the song written?
4A: Middle for both

5Q: What is the song from?
5A: The song was originally written as an instrumental piece of music in 1907, and lyrics were added in 1932.  It seems to have been written as a stand alone musical entertainment.

6Q: If from a show, what character sang it?
6A: NA

7Q: If from a show, from what situation does the song arise?  Why does the character sing the song?  What function does the song/character play in the story?
7A: NA

8Q:  What other contextual elements of the song are significant?
8A: This song reminds me of “The Brambles” in NYC’s Central Park…a place where one has the feeling that something strange is just about to happen.

9Q: Was the song written for a particular singer?  Why?
9A: No

10Q: If not from a show, why did the songwriter write the song?
10A: This song seems to have been written solely for entertainment of listeners…and it is very entertaining!

11Q: What do you feel the lyricist is trying to say?
11A: In one’s imagination, anything is possible.

12Q: Does the song tell a story or just express feelings or ideas?
12A: This song tells a story

13Q: Who else has recorded this song:
13A: Val Rosing, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein, Jerry Garcia, Anne Murray, Kenny Ball and his Orchestra, Little Mo Maccoury, James Campbell and Allegri String Quartet

The rest of the questions require VERY personal answers and I will spare you those!

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It has been great fun to share “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” at “Sing Books” gatherings over the last couple of years.  As I’ve been doing my homework for the song in preparation for my new show “Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret“, I’ve learned all sorts of interesting things about it and old memories have floated to the surface.

I discovered this song only 3 or 4 years ago, but the tune seemed oddly familiar.  A little research revealed that John W. Bratton originally wrote the song as an instrumental titled “Teddy Bear Two-Step.”  Funny enough, when thinking on how the tune is familiar, the song is always sounds like it is being played on pipe organ when it drifts through my head.

I was lucky to work at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis during a couple of summers on break from Indiana University in the late 80’s.  One of my favorite tasks in that job was running the vintage carousel which still crowns the top floor of that wonderful museum!  Those of us assigned to the carousel got to announce the beginning of a ride, take tickets, proclaim the safety instructions, help kids on and off the animals, and press a big red button to start the carousel turning and the splendourous Calliope from the vintage Wurlitzer Organ.  Ah ha!  That was it.  The Wurlitzer in the center of the carousel played “The Teddy Bear Two Step.”  I must have heard that tune rise hundreds of times from the center of the carousel with thousands of children and carousel animals spinning around me.


The carousel at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Just to confirm, I wrote the children’s museum to confirm the song in that Wurlitzer and Alex from Customer Service responded:

Emily,
You are correct that Teddy Bears’ picnic was one of the songs on the organ play list for many years. I can’t confirm that it is currently on the list of songs, but I have definitely heard it coming from the carousel over the 12 years that I’ve been at the museum.
Alex
Customer Service

It’s a wonderful song, frolicking and fun, with a hint of adventure.  Adding the Calliope of a carousel organ sets my imagination spinning!

Here’s a YouTube of a different carousel’s Wurlitzer Organ playing “Teddy Bear Two-Step”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB_IGbHmw2M

Come for the adventure with me when we sing this song in my new show,
Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret
on June 4 and June 10, 2011.

Find out all about it here:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/sing-books-with-emily-the-cabaret/

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10/19/2011

On “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” and the kazoo…

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Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Words by Jimmy Kennedy
Music by John W. Bratton
Illustrated by Alexandra Day
Published by Scholastic Inc., New York, NY, 1983
ISBN 0-439-39622-0

One thing I’ve learned singing to kids is that one must fill empty space.  If you don’t keep things moving (literally moving), you are sunk.  Teddy Bear’s Picnic is always a favorite song.  The music is just so evocative and spooky, all Calliope and carousel, and perfect for its purpose.  But the music naturally includes an instrumental break.  I tried taking the break out, but alas, the songs misses that music.  But fill that break with kazooing and you’ve got yourself a picnic!

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Lake Ridge Neighborhood Library, July 2011
Photo by Stephanie Dupal-Demartin of LakeRidge-Occoquan Patch

A scene from TEDDY BEAR’S PICNIC

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Related Articles

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NATIONAL TEDDY BEAR DAY 2015: 9/9/2015
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/sing-teddy-bears-picnic-on-national-teddy-bear-day-992015/

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CAROUSELS I HAVE LOVED (Pinterest Board) for TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC and The CIRCLE GAME
http://pinterest.com/singbooksemily/carousels-i-have-loved/

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National Kazoo Day

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/happy-national-kazoo-day-january-28-2011/

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OH, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY: SING BOOKS WITH EMILY, THE CABARET

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/sing-books-with-emily-the-cabaret/

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