It's Up To Us
by Teresa Jennings
It's up to us whether the environment in which we live is clean and healthy and worthy of passing on to future generations or not. It's a simple premise, but a powerful one, and one that we bring to the forefront of our teachings and discussions every April on Earth Day. If your school participates in this event, you will find this song a wonderful extension of your activities, perfect for a performance or just in-class use. If you do use it, be sure to involve the regular classroom teacher(s) as well, so it can be brought across the curriculum, reinforcing the subject matter for your students.
The marriage of Latin and Español flavors in this tune is infectious, and encourages passion, if not a physical response. To help with the latter, we have included rhythmic hand claps, which really add to the overall excitement. There is even a special, more complex clapping part that occurs during the guitar solo the third time at measure 9. This alternate part appears in cue size on the piano/vocal score. You can alter it as you like if it's too challenging or if you just want something else. In fact, any of the clapping throughout can be altered to taste. Throughout the piece, the clapping could be done by a separate group of performers (other than the singers), or you could mix and match the singers and clappers for interest and/or ease of performance.
The vocals can either be simple or not, as you prefer. The simple version is unison (with or without claps). It works very nicely that way. The more challenging version would include parts 2 and 3, which enter the second time. (You could also add part 2 only, or part 3 only, to part 1.) The parts sound very cool together, and for older students in particular offer some great musical moments. Notably, at measures 39 and 40 – and similar spots – the Eb chord clashes beautifully with the D (no 3rd) chord for a marvelous Spanish moment, but singers have to stand their ground! They will enjoy pulling this off successfully, and the effect is invigorating.
To help singers learn their parts, we have isolated both part 2 and part 3 and put them on our web site. (The details for accessing these free downloadables can be found in the box on page 65.) As an additional tool for learning or just for the mere joy of hearing/singing along with it, we have created an a cappella version with claps, too. It's worth the listen.
If using the song in unison is more comfortable for you, we have created a unison version for reference and teaching. It is also on the web site, free for the downloading to subscribers and customers who own the issue. (See details on page 65.)
You really ought to listen to the instrumental track version of this song on the Performance/Accompaniment recording if you can. The big band jazz performance is phenomenal. But more than that, our drummer, Dane Clark, and our guitarist, Sandy Williams totally outdid themselves as you can readily hear. Your students should be exposed to such outstanding virtuoso level playing. And what a good opportunity to let them know that these folks make a solid living doing what they do. It has taken them years of practicing, studying, and experience. But just listen to the end result!
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.