by John Riggio/Teresa Jennings
Every now and then, John and Teresa team up on a piece. One of them will write some music, some lyrics, a melody, an accompaniment - or whatever - and pass it by the other. From there, they decide who will do what to develop it into a song. There is usually a lot of going back and forth, tweaking and perfecting. In the case of "I Wonder," John had already written the accompaniment and suggested a motif within it. Teresa was so taken with it, that she was compelled to write a melody and lyrics that honored it properly. The topic of wonder seemed ideal. Between the two of them, this song was truly a labor of love. We think it has the kind of sound that hits are made of (if we do say so ourselves).
The song speaks of a time of introspective thinking, of hoping we'll make good decisions and achieve our potential, of a time when we wonder what the future holds for us. It is therefore appropriate for occasions of such thought - times of change, such as the completion of a grade, a graduation, or whenever the future seems especially uncertain. More than that, the song is hopeful in its intent. "I wonder what I'll be" becomes a reminder that our potential is enormous. For most kids, the whole future is spread out before them like a blank book waiting for them to fill its pages.
The melody of the song has a great deal of syncopation, which may prove to be a bit challenging for younger singers despite the fact that it is all in unison. However, in our experience, when students are allowed to sing along with the recording, even when the rhythms are challenging, they will pick it up pretty well.
Speaking of the recording, we feel that the richest performances of the song will benefit from its use. The layers of synthesizers, the drum loop, guitars, bass, and the real (yes, real) strings all add to a very contemporary sound. Nonetheless, the piano part is playable, and the piece certainly can be performed live.
While the song was originally intended to be sung by a group, we can also recommend allowing a soloist to perform it. This song is ideal for that, especially if you have someone who is exceptionally talented. You will note that we have included two versions of the song on the CD. The first version is a unison choral version. The second version is a solo version which features the incredible Katy Gentry. For those of you who don't know her, Katy has been singing with us since she was a young girl. And yes, she's always been that good. She's older now, of course, and has a more refined, adult sound. But to us, she's still one of our kids. She has sung on a variety of projects for us over the years, and we greatly appreciate her talents. We suggest allowing your soloist to listen to Katy's solo for style, but let her take her own liberties with the melody.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.