Mind Your Manners

by Teresa Jennings

You've asked us for more songs that teach values, character, and behavioral lessons, and we're happy to comply. In this case, the topic is obvious: manners.

The CD is really necessary for the use of this song because it is a highly processed, synthesized, contemporary piece. Having said that, you could let your students do their own percussion, synth pads, effects, rhythms, and so on, either with or without the recording. The hip hop style is familiar to most kids, and they seem to find it easy to feel the rhythm and the beat. Let them. Even if they don't add their own instruments and/or effects, they could certainly add their own movement. Our guess is that they will be hard pressed to hold still when they listen.

Because we wanted the message to be accessible for all of your students, including those elusive older boys, we wrote a second part. It is essentially an octave lower than the first part whenever the melody goes above a low D. At the pick-up to measure 17, it is all unison for the first few bars. The divisi that occurs at the pick-up to measure 21 is optional, but very simple. At measure 25, we threw in a rap which we hope most students will recognize as The Golden Rule. (Maybe rapping The Golden Rule will help disprove the myth that all rap is bad?)

As a follow-up activity to this song, have students practice their politeness with each other. Contrive circumstances within the classroom which they can use as examples. If your school is focusing on attributes of character, such as respect, be sure to let other teachers know that you have this valuable tool at the ready. Once again, music goes across the curriculum to teach and reinforce.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.