Put On Your Thinking Cap

by Teresa Jennings

This song was written to be used in the musical revue Discovery, the first two songs of which appeared in the last issue (Volume 14, Number 1). However, "Put On Your Thinking Cap" is a strong piece with an educational focus that can be used independently of the revue. It is also a natural for bringing music across the curriculum to any regular classroom studies that have to do with education, discovery, invention, innovation, exploration, creativity, and so on. For example, a class that is studying inventors and their inventions could use it as a supplement or reinforcement of that study. The same thing goes for explorers. Because of their focus and willingness to discover, the world has constantly changed and moved forward. We think that using a song that is so fun, funky, and full of energy will inspire your students to take the message more to heart.

We older folks have heard the common expression "put on your thinking cap," but perhaps your students haven't. It was used in our day to motivate people to focus. Once they did, results could follow. Indeed, it was much more likely that they would "think of something new" because of that focus.

The best way to use the song is with the Performance/Accompaniment CD. The instrumental background is pretty decent, if we do say so ourselves. We used our usual incredible rhythm section and spotlighted our wind players with the hot, tight "horn band" lines. We think they did a right respectable job. (If you ever wonder about the players, check out the masthead on the inside front cover.)

Singers will feel the driving pulse readily, which in turn will help them with the style of the piece. We took extra care in the rehearsal at the studio to work with our singers on delivery of the various sections of the piece. The verse is meant to be sung with a degree of passion, as if they are delivering a very important message to the listener. Just singing the words and notes will not get the same result. There has to be conviction behind the words. Have the students sing in their chest voices, where comfortable, and literally punctuate the words with enunciation and accents. Let them listen to our singers to see how it can sound. They will notice a few nuances added, such as scoops into some notes. This sort of thing is fine, if it works for them and if you're okay with it.

The next section (at measure 15) changes gears. It abruptly becomes more gentle and flowing. Accordingly, we had our singers shift into their head voices. (The chest voice belting is not smooth enough for this section for most singers.) You may want to work on this transition a bit to get it right. If it doesn't happen easily, consider selecting a special group of singers to do the gentle sections. They could be out front, off to the side, or otherwise grouped for obvious attention.

The next section (at measure 20) goes succinctly back into the verse, complete with style and attitude, until the rap section. You will note that the rhythms of the rap are somewhat syncopated here and there. This makes for an interesting line, but may prove challenging for some students. Again, the idea of choosing a select group to do the rapping might work. Especially if you have any "star rappers" in your midst, this might be kind of cool. If you prefer to use the entire group, we have offered an alternative, simpler rhythm for measure 39, which we feel has the potential to be difficult to read. On the other hand, if students use the rappers on the recording as a guide, the rhythms may not prove problematic at all.

One more note: We have suggested the addition of claps on beats 2 and 4 starting in measure one. If you use them, have them stop during the smooth section each time. During the rapped section, use your discretion.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.