Don't Take My Music Away

by Teresa Jennings

Up to now the lighter side of music has been explored. This song reminds us that music has power to inspire and change us in a not-so-perfect world - a power that most of us need to deal with our daily struggles. It is also designed to let the parents and administrators know how the students feel about their music and its importance in their education.

On the P/A cassette you will hear the sound of wind just before and after the song.You may wish to discuss the deeper meaning of that element with your students, particularly your older students. The author's intent was to portray the desolation of the world without music, but it is open for interpretation. What else could it mean? Let your students come up with their own theories.

You will also hear a soprano saxophone on the cassette. Use this opportunity to describe and discuss that instrument, as well as the saxophone family (see Music K-8, Vol. 2, No. 4 for more information). The distinctive guitar at the beginning of the song is a 12-string guitar. Discuss and compare this type of guitar with other types. If you have access to one, bring it in for your students to see, or better yet, try to get a guitarist to demonstrate one in person.

There are two parts to this song, too. As before, only part 1 is sung at first. Part 2 does not join in until the second time through at measure 17. You will note that part 2 is a rap which is performed simultaneously to the singing of part 1. This rap is designed to be spoken by your oldest students. It is wordy and somewhat poetic and would receive its best delivery from lower voices. Have your rappers recite the words in a calm, low tone. Tell them that since the message is so serious, they should keep their voices serious as well. For reference, let them listen to the way the performers on side one of the cassette rap. As the music gets more uplifting around measure 33, their voices can come up in volume and pitch, too. This will help to underline the positive outlook music is capable of instilling.

If you would rather use one or just a few rappers for part 2 from measure 17 through 48, let them come up front where they can be seen, and put them on a microphone.

Whatever you do, don't let the novelty of the rapping interfere with the precision of delivery as regards the rhythm. If they don't stay up with the beat, it won't come out together. Make sure you have strong performers leading. You might also consider asking older students (junior high or high school) to learn and perform this part, too. That would definitely reinforce the strength of the line. Or, have some of your more rhythmically capable teachers help you out. An English/Speech teacher would be an excellent candidate, especially if you could convince her that her participation would indeed bring it across the curriculum.

At measure 49, the style breaks into a latin feel, and part 2 becomes a harmony line. (This harmony line should not be sung the first time through - only after the D.S.) Once again, it is aimed at lower, changing, or changed voices. If you need to, you can have it sung up the octave. In all cases, part 2 can be altered or eliminated to suit your situation.

If you are not using the cassette, try to add at least a shaker at measure 49 when the latin feel takes over. The shaker should not play on the D.S. until it gets back to measure 49. When it goes to the Coda, a tambourine on the second beat of each measure would be a good addition as well. (Remember: it's in cut time.) This is also the point at which hand claps can be added. They should land at the same time as the tambourine. Also, the second time through the section starting in measure 67, the piano should comp in the right hand up the octave for a little more busy-ness, while keeping the left hand solidly playing the feel.

You will note in the lyrics that the sustained words "music" have a "c" in parentheses at the end of the extender lines. This is for reinforcement of the articulation of the "c" at the end of the sustained note, so it doesn't sound like they're singing "musi."

The last word of the song is a spoken "Don't." It is not to be yelled or emphasized in any manner. It should be delivered calmly, but seriously. Again, refer to the cassette for style.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.