by Teresa Jennings

Throughout history, humans have always searched for the new, the undiscovered, the unexplored, the unsolved, the possibilities. Explorers, scientists, teachers and students alike have pursued knowledge of things beyond our current reach. It wasn't that long ago that we couldn't conceive of fax machines, microwaves, and personal computers. Now they are a fact of life. The idea that a multi-ton hunk of metal could lift off of the surface of the earth and fly through the air thousands of feet up and then land safely would have been unthinkable a mere two hundred years ago. The possibilities for what is yet to be learned, discovered, or invented is unfathomable!

The song "Discovery" is the title song of the musical revue Discovery. It is the introduction to the musical exploration of all things possible, which is the theme of the revue. Also in this issue, you will find a primary song ("I Can Learn") that is part of the revue as well. In the next issue of Music K-8, you will find another relevant tune for the revue called "Put On Your Thinking Cap." In the third issue, more tunes (including a finale), a script, a teacher's guide, and reproducible poster and program cover art will be included, completing your revue. You can use the revue as it is, or you can adapt it any way you like to make it work for you. Many of our subscribers pull tunes out of our revues to use with other programs, musicals, revues, and so on. Still others use the revues as we offer them, but add songs, skits, narrations, and so on, to make them longer and more in-depth. The teacher's guide, which you will find in your upcoming third issue (January/February 2004), will offer suggestions for adaptation of the revue.

Across the curriculum

One of the most important things you can do with this revue, or with any of its songs, is to bring it across the curriculum! The topic of discovery has so many connotations for the educational environment. You can focus on discovery itself, or on learning, invention, exploration, innovation, and so forth. For example, you could use the music to celebrate the first flight of the Wright Brothers, which occurred in December 1903. (Which, as of this writing, happens to be an anniversary of note - 100 years.) You could use it as a point of departure for discussions and studies of historical explorations such as the Vikings, Magellan, Lewis and Clark, etc. The inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, or Thomas Edison could be a springboard into studies of future inventions. What can your students imagine? What could they invent? And of course, discovery can be solidly connected to education. Everything new that we learn is a discovery! That's what education is. What a golden opportunity for you to use music to reach across that curriculum, once again proving its value and necessity to your fellow educators. (Not that cross curricular use is the only thing that makes music valuable. We know better, but we do have to convince others sometimes.) Be sure you let them know that you have this resource available to reinforce and emphasize various topics they are covering. It works for just about everything: science, math, history, geography, art, music, you name it.

The song

The song "Discovery" is really quite simple if you analyze it, despite the fact that it's a pretty long song, page-wise. It has an A section and a B section which are essentially the meat of the tune and repeat often, including a key change. The variables include a transitional section in the middle and an ending. The important thing to remember is that the tune can be performed in unison. All of the additional parts are optional, as is the solo. The four part harmony at the end looks daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Again, just use part 1 if you want. Or just part 1 and 2. All of the other parts are doubled in the instrumental background on the Performance/Accompaniment CD.

Once students have learned the A and B sections, it's just a matter of remembering the form. And of course, you can give them visual cues to keep them on track. The best way to learn the piece is by reading the music and rehearsing with the recording several times. Break it down into sections, then put it all together. For learning the parts, we have found it helpful to use a keyboard to play the individual lines over and over until the students can sing them.

As with any tune involving parts, you may wish to invite older students to join in. Especially your 7th and 8th grade singers could learn the parts quickly and add a great deal of reinforcement to the performance. Let them be "vocal helpers" for the younger singers.

Once students have learned the notes and words, add the nuances. For example, at the beginning of the piece, the lyrics should be sung "with hushed intensity." Let them sing it with anticipation, almost a loud whisper. Let the line build gradually, so that by the time they reach measure 17, they are in full voice, singing forte.

Another special musical moment occurs in measure 82 when the chorus enters after the solo. The solo is marked mezzo forte, but so is the chorus. Insist they keep their dynamic level down at first so they have room to crescendo as indicated on the music. This will lead to emotional impact as the tune rises and the key changes.

Remember that the four times at measure 121 are to be kept at forte as well. And the final yell at the end should be iterated with zest!

We would be remiss if we didn't mention our wonderful recording of the background tracks to this song. As you can hear, we have a full orchestra ready to accompany your choir. There are many nice details to be heard if you have a chance to listen to the tracks: for example, the pizzicato strings, the harp, and the soprano saxophone duets.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.