“Wonderball”: Musically Reborn!

Do you remember playing a “hot potato” game as a young child called “The Wonderball” in which a ball is passed from person to person, while a rhyming passage is recited aloud, and you try to avoid being the last to hold it?  More importantly, do you recall a melody that accompanied the verse?  I can answer that one for you:  no.

I was taught this game as an adult in the late 1980s by the fabulous dance & fitness educator, Patricia Sears, who instructed other schoolteachers how to incorporate movement activities into traditional classroom settings.   At the time, Sears was only able to convey the lyrics to “The Wonderball” — melodically, we were on our own.

Kristin C. Hall, on her website, acknowledges some simple chord changes – but does not specific any particular melody line.  Also, some kind soul has posted a home-spun version on YouTube that includes something along the lines of a melody, however one that likely exists in that household and nowhere else.

Fortunately, the long national nightmare is over.  Zero to 180 – as a public service to future generations – has crafted a tune for all of humanity to use freely:

[Pssst:  click triangle to play “The Wonderball” arranged by The Recess Committee]

The wonderball goes round and round
To pass it quickly you are bound
If you’re the one to hold it last
Then for you the game is past
And you … are … out!

Can you identify which early 60s television sitcom theme was thieved for the opening line of the keyboard solo?

Today’s special post celebrates Zero to 180’s fourth birthday in grand fashion and encourages parents all around the globe to keep children physically active.  The Centers for Disease Control point out in their 2010 report – The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance – that “there is a growing body of research focused on the association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance among school-aged youth.”  At the risk of stating the obvious, this means that movement is fundamental to education’s bottom line (i.e., academic achievement).

wonderball-45Zero to 180 Milestones:  The Preschool Years

  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that established a bona fide cross-cultural link between Cincinnati (via James Brown’s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster’s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother Number One).
  • 1st anniversary piece that featured an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refused to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrated the under-sung legacy of songwriter/session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.
  • 3rd anniversary piece that revealed the depths to which Zero to 180 will sink in order to foist his own amateur recordings onto an unsuspecting and trusting populace — the brand his never really recovered.

“Hipster”: That You, Mr. Brinson?

I’m surprised there aren’t more web pages that pay tribute to Julius Brinson, gym teacher extraordinaire, whose boundless energy and relentless good cheer have brightened countless days for the students, parents, and fellow staff of Sligo Creek Elementary School.

It’s no secret that Mr. Brinson is rather adept at mixing a sound board, as his DJ skills are regularly put to use at school events.  How likely is that before he embarked on a long and distinguished career as a physical education instructor, Julius Brinson had taken a run at the big time in the early 1970s with this coveted dance track on obscure indie, Interstate 95?

“Hipster”     C. Forture & J. Brinson     1971?

Years later “Hipster” would easily command three-digit figures at auction.  Fortunately, German label Tramp Records would take pity on the rest of us in 2012 and include “Hipster” in its funk and soul compilation Movements 4.

Brinson 45Mr. Brinson will be in full effect at today’s big annual event at Sligo Creek Elementary:  The Salamander Stride — a “fun run” for the entire student body and a fundraiser for the PTA, in addition to being a fun time for the whole school community.

Aug/Sep 2014 edition of ‘Our Children’ – National PTA Magazine

Salamander Stride

The Musical Equivalent of Recess

Amen Corner is one group who has managed to capture the joy of unstructured play time at school — that midday break known as “Recess:

“Recess”     Amen Corner      1969

This song has particular meaning for this PTA parent who heads up a Recess Committee to improve the quality of the daily playtime experience at his children’s school.


That’s Andy FairweatherLow, by the way, vocalizing a song he himself did not compose (that would be a gentleman by the surname of Henderson) but one he did, nonetheless, produce, along with (early Kinks/Who producer) Shel Talmy, for the entire 1969 album, Farewell to the Real Magnificent Seven, on which “Recess” appears.

Fun to point out that this song never saw single release, except as the B-side of a 45 released in New Zealand.

Recess NZ 45“Recess” can also be found on a 1969 sampler album of tracks from renegade indie label, Immediate, that bears the wry title, Happy to Be a Part of the Industry of Human Happiness.

Immediate LP

Ambrose Brazelton: Fab Four as Force for Fitness

In a noble attempt to leverage the Beatles’ massive popularity on behalf of making kids more physically fit all across America, Ambrose Brazelton – a lifelong educator and former Director of Health, Physical Education & Recreation for the Ohio public school system – went into a NYC recording studio in 1971 and (with help from hired musicians) transformed six Beatle hits into educational vehicles for teaching balance, body control, endurance, and coordination, among other skills. For instance, “ObLaDi, ObLaDa” – Paul McCartney’s attempt to emulate the “new” reggae sound of 1968 – in Brazleton’s hands, becomes a vessel for achieving “mastery of the gallop and slide to effect smooth transition to polka step”:

Ob La Di – Ambrose Brazelton

[Psst: Click on the triangle above so you can gallop & slide along with Ambrose Brazelton.]Ambrose Brazelton - And The Beatles Go On & On

The album (which I discovered in the combined record collection of my brother & his wife) includes detailed notes and photo illustrations for each of the physical activities associated with “Ticket to Ride”; “Eleanor Rigby”; “Ob-La-Di”; “Something”; “Got to Get You Into My Life”; and “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Ambrose Brazelton received his B.S. Degree at the University of Akron in 1952, his Master’s Degree at Kent State University in 1960.  He was the recipient of the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation Teacher Award in 1963.  He is a member of AAHPER, OAHPER, Midwest AHPER, Ohio State Education Association, National Education Association, and the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education & Recreation.  Brazelton (1924-2010) once traveled extensively throughout Ohio and the nation as a consultant lecturer and demonstrator.  He proved again and again his ability to make children enjoy and participate in physical education programs.

George Draws the Short Straw – Again

On the back cover, just below the list of song titles, it states “Music and lyrics, Lennon & McCartney” – even though George Harrison’s #1 Beatle single, “Something” is on the album!