Why Music? (Do You Know?)

by Teresa Jennings

This song is a powerful tool for the advocacy of music in our schools. The folk/rock instrumental background is very catchy and will help to make it memorable, which is just what you want. The melody is unison throughout so that you can use the song with various grade levels easily. There is also an optional recorder part that uses low D, E, F#, G, A, and B. (The F# is optional and you can have students substitute other notes in the chord or leave it out as it occurs.) The recorder is considered part of the instrumental track, so you will hear it on track 22. That way, if you don't use recorder players, it's still there. But if you want to use your own players by themselves, there is an alternate instrumental version as well (track 33) that excludes the recorder on the audio track. You could also have some kids sing the syllable "ooh" instead of or in addition to recorders since that line is the melody at that point in the piece.

The real meat of the song comes from the spoken narrations, which begin at measure 21 the first time. If you listen to the kids on our Performance/Accompaniment recording, you will understand how it all flows together. The words are written in approximately the locations on the music where they should occur for timing purposes. This has a little flexibility, but be sure your speakers read well, enunciate, and keep moving (though not rushing). Again, our performers offer very good examples. We chose to have a different person read each sentence, which worked very nicely. However, you can mix and match as you like. Let lots of kids speak, or only a few. Even just one or two, if that's what works best for you.

The content of the narrations are gleaned from various music advocacy resources. The inspiration came from (1) the general need for a song like this, (2) the whole theme of the musical, and (3) similar approaches to sharing knowledge seen and heard in recent media (that is, asking the question "Did You Know?" or "Do You Know?"). Notably, our own music advocacy web site - SchoolMusicMatters.com - has a number of resources such as quotes, links, and videos available for further exploration of this very important subject. What we have done with this song, is take many of the nuggets of pertinent information and put it all together in one place to share with students, parents, administrators, communities, and so forth. Yes, it's a blatant ad for music education, but if we don't defend music in our schools, who will? Do you know?

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.