Don't Get Burned!
by John Riggio
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.
In our first effort to present a song about safety, humor is the vehicle used to convey a serious message. "Don't Get Burned!" is a primary piece which features a slapstick "boom-chick" structure that is very singable, repetitious, and easy to learn. Not only will your students have fun with it, but more important, they are likely to remember the ideas presented. As an addendum to singing this, you may want to go over some guidelines for fire safety with your students. We have thrown in some free advice to share with them in this issue. (Refer to the reproducible sheet on page 59.)
If you're using the recording, you're opening yourself up to a barrage of sound effects and noise makers that should have your students giggling. (Hey, it made us giggle!) The song starts with a genuine fire engine sounding its alarm and horn. The instrumentation is reminiscent of those found in "old timey" pizza establishments where guys wore flat top straw hats and sported handlebar moustaches.
You'll hear piano, banjo, guitar, bass and a drum set played with brushes. We also added winds to emphasize the boom-chick and play some fun glisses. Toward the end of the piece, the piano takes on a more ragtime feel, and the trombone and bass trombone add the melody line in a somewhat bombastic manner. We even threw in a clarinet solo. As if that wasn't enough, we spruced it all up with our "lounge singers" (in their second Music K-8 appearance) sliding through a few background "ooh's," "ah's," and "woah's."
If you intend to play the piano part yourself, please note that the melody is optional to assist your students in learning the piece. And if you have willing participants, adding the clickety-clack of the "spoons" will assist the flavor of the piece. You may even have some other ideas for noise makers of your own to keep things lively.
For visual effect while performing, you might try to round up some firemen's hats, or even add their coats and boots (if you have a generous local fire department with some smaller sizes they'd be willing to loan out for your performance). Even if the outfits are too big, this could add to the humorous nature of the song!
across the curriculum
Get together with the classroom teacher and ask your local fire department to send a representative to discuss fire safety and demonstrate the gear firemen need to wear when working. This will not only educate your students, but will reduce potential fear they might have of a fully dressed fireman in the midst of a real crisis. They do resemble spacemen or aliens a bit, which could be intimidating to younger children in particular if they don't know what to expect. They might actually hide from them out of fear in a real fire, increasing the danger of injury. Knowing what to expect ahead of time might possibly save their lives.