Groovy Zoovy

by David & Anne Ellsworth

If you ever wondered whether or not a zoo could be groovy, wonder no more! This bluesy funk tune demonstrates just how groovy a zoo can be with such critters as the kickin' crocodiles and hip hippos. A great song for learning about animals for your young singers, this is also a good song for rhythm, movement, and imagination. After all, you definitely need an imagination to visualize those monkeys on marimbas, wouldn't you agree?

The chorus of the tune is fairly simple and based on quarter notes. It sets the tone for the verses that follow and allows kids to get into the groovy groove. The verses, which are spoken – or rapped – are rhythmically natural, with nothing harder than eighth notes to say. The words at this point cite specific groups of animals and their participation in the song. They play various instruments and dance special steps which your class could actually try to create, like prancing penguins or leapin' lizards.

If you want to mix it up, try a version of the song where your kids dance for the verses and a version where they sing for the verses. Since the animals are mentioned close together, maybe you could have one child or group of children act out one of the animals for one verse, then switch animals for the second verse. Or even switch phrase by phrase. Or you could let everyone try to do everything all together – singing and moving!

The instrumental break at measure 21 gives you an opportunity to showcase just the actions if you want. Let kids be any of the animals mentioned for those four bars. Or extend the movement to continue when the song returns to measure 5 each time.

On the recording, there are also a few animal sound effects that center around zoo-type dwellers. Can your students identify any of these? Some might surprise you! Here's a list you can share if you like:

  • leopard (m. 4)
  • chimpanzee (m. 12, first time; m. 21 second time)
  • rhinoceros (m. 21, first time)
  • lion (m. 12, second time)
  • elephant (at the end in the coda)

Consider an extension of this song that brings it across the curriculum. Invite a zoo keeper, zoologist, or zoo veterinarian to speak to your class. If possible, combine this with a field trip to the zoo. Animals are wonderful, and what kid doesn't love learning about them in person? Besides, zoos are just, well, groovy!

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.