Lewis and Clark

by Teresa Jennings

This piece should be pretty self-explanatory. The sung vocal line is all in unison throughout, so it is easy to learn and remember. The "ooh" melody is a bit different than the chorus melody, but a few rehearsals with the CD ought to do the trick.

The recording is delightful, incorporating a solo harmonica and several layers of acoustic guitar (including 12-string and mandolin). The harmonica comes and goes, playing melodies, countermelodies, and even an ad lib fill at the end. Our fine player was Mike Runyan, who you may recall we used last year on a couple of tunes as well.

The narration in this song is the real meat of it. It gives a general synopsis of the tale of the travels of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Though you may find this useful during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of their journey, the piece will work any time. As always, we encourage you to bring it across the curriculum and share this resource with your regular classroom teachers, especially ones who are focusing on exploration and discovery, or specifically on Lewis and Clark.

There are several ways you could use the narration. You could select one student to do it all. You could have three different students read the three different verses. You could divide each verse into two sections with two readers. (This is what we did.) Or you could have a different reader for each sentence. As always, you have the right to adapt our words. If you feel the narration should include something it doesn't, or you just want to reword something, or even if you want to completely rewrite it, go ahead! The trick of the narrations is getting through them by the time the singers come back in with the chorus. For that reason, we recommend selecting good, articulate readers.

If you would like to use this song in a performance setting, you might wish to add a bit of drama to it. Have the characters of Lewis and Clark appear in costume. Add other characters as well - those specifically mentioned in the song, or others. Let them "explore" the area around the stage as the chorus is sung. Have them look high and low, recording things in their journals, pretending to talk about things as they point to them, nodding their heads, and so on. During the narrations, have them stand in a pose without action, lest they upstage the words.

There are many good resources available for students to learn about Lewis and Clark, including what they might have worn. (Some of these resources are available through Music K-8 Marketplace on MusicK8.com.)

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.