Education Rocks!

by Teresa Jennings

Every year, we publish a musical revue in its entirety within the first three issues of Music K-8. By the time subscribers receive their January/February issue, they have everything they need to perform all or part of this musical revue, including the songs, a script, and teaching suggestions.

This year, the title - and subject - of our revue is Education Rocks! As usual, our opening song has the same title as the name of the revue itself.

We feel it's important to establish the topic of the revue right up front, and in this case, you can readily see that education is our focus this year. In a time when too many students are questioning the need for an education, or are making less than wise choices about their lives and futures, we hope to inform and inspire with this revue.

The possibilities for the performance across the curriculum are vast. You should definitely let your fellow teachers and administrators know that you will be focusing on this subject as soon as possible to be sure to have their support when it comes time to bring it to the public. Parents and community can't help but be affected by the impact this program will have on the children. Get all of the classes, or even the whole school involved and participating in the theme. You might be amazed at the ideas other students and classes will come up with to connect the whole educational message together. Science, math, history, art, etc., can all be brought into the program or into the school's own focus in some way or another: banners, contests, a school web page, a week-long event for the community - anything your students can dream up! Things could even expand into the D.A.R.E. program, Career Day, and so on. (And it all started in your music class. What a wonderful testimonial to the importance of music in our schools!)

Most students are familiar with, comfortable with, and enjoy rock music. That's why we've chosen this vehicle to bring the message forth. There are many, many different types of rock these days, and as many opinions of the varieties. Just ask any student! What we hope to do is provide something for everyone musically within the context of the five songs we offer, as well as suggestions for other supplemental materials we have previously published that might work in this revue.

The song "Education Rocks!" is quite lively. It starts with two electric guitars playing a plucky ostinato. They are soon joined by electric bass, piano and more, sustained electric guitars.

The melody, which begins at measure 9, is to be sung with emphasis. It is pitched so that singers can really belt it out in their chest voices, which should be encouraged. The singers on the Performance/Accompaniment compact disc (or cassette) provide an excellent example of style. Let your students listen to them for reference.

At measure 21, the response to "We're smart!" and "And wise!" should be yelled. You can have a separate group of soli performers do this part or let everyone join in.

The claps that come in at measure 26 are optional, of course, but they feel very natural and should be easy to add. Stop them when it goes back for the verse and then bring them back in at the chorus and until the last measure.

Here's a hint for you: after the D.S., the chorus at measure 26 going into the coda is really only four times through the chorus. Knowing this might simplify teaching it. Singing along with the recording will also help your students learn it more quickly.

Part 2 is optional. It's a neat descant that your older students, in particular, might enjoy singing. It enters at the coda. If you prefer not to divide your class for parts, you could select a few older students - even from another class - to come in and sing the second part. Not only will it be well covered, but you will also reinforce the importance of cooperation. Plus, your older students will be honored that you asked them. They may even help out as teachers to the younger students!

Note: We frequently blend older and younger singers together on our recordings. The younger ones have the sweet, innocent sound of youth we love to hear. The older ones add stability and solid musicality. You may find that this technique can be very effective in your musical endeavors as well.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.