Throw It Out The Window

adapted/arr. by Paul Jennings

Many of us learned this old American nonsense song around campfires or in other positive settings, and saw it as a fairly innocent song based, to some extent, on folksongs or even old folk stories that seem to work well in 6/8 time. But the concept behind this song left a deep stamp on our mind-set from the 1640s onward, which you may or may not wish to go into with your students. That concept is "defenestration." Defenestration is basically throwing something or someone, often an enemy, out of a window. The practice was prevalent in early Prague where, at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, political enemies were thrown from high castle windows with little or no warning.

Fortunately, over the years this has become more of a source of humor for the young voices that sing it. Our setting uses six of the most commonly used nursery rhyme stories with each evolving into a form that starts normally, but then ends with throwing something important out the window.

For your classes, this should be fairly easy to learn, and as the song becomes more comfortable, consider creating your own version of the tune to substitute for existing current verses. Go through a book of nursery rhymes for inspiration.

To see if a tune or rhyme will work, try the original with the melody and chords of the tune, then decide what needs to be thrown. For instance, try it with "Little Jack Horner," or "Little Miss Muffet" as they both work and make interesting lessons. Then work up a list of songs in 6/8 meter. Many can be adapted, but some can't for various reasons.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.