Why Can't They Be Free?

by Teresa Jennings

The subject of freedom aside, this song is a good opportunity to study various musical concepts. It is in 3/4 time, and the A section, which is in D minor, has a melancholy feel. It is soulfully enhanced by the second vocal part added on the repeat. The B section, however, goes into a major, quasi-gospel feel which builds to a peak and then diminishes back into the minor mode.

If you are using the Performance/Accompaniment Cassette, you will also be able to use this song to further examine some traditional instruments, namely the cello, mandolin and oboe. Listen to the accompaniment side of the cassette with your students to identify these instruments. The opening bass clef line is played by solo cello and continues through the A section. Every time the tune returns to D minor, the cello solo is present. The mandolin is also used during the minor sections to add a touch of Eastern European folk music feel. The oboe plays throughout the tune, but can be readily picked out at the very end (with apologies to Prokofiev...).

For performance, the use of costumes during this song has been suggested. Once again, get the classroom teacher in on this one. If you have had your discussion of other countries, explore some of them further. Find resources with photographs (or videos) of people in their customary garb. Let your students be in on the decision of which countries to represent and what types of costumes to create. Costumes can be as simple or elaborate as you have the time, assistance and resources to develop.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.