Celebrating In Music And Song


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Students will examine the verses to the popular 18th-century song Yankee Doodle and create their own verses in a song writing challenge.

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Celebrating In Music And Song

  1. 1. This activity challenges your students to write new verses for the popular 18th-century song, Yankee Doodle. Background Think of the role music plays in our lives. We listen to music for fun. Music can help us learn new lessons. Music is used in special ceremonies. We hear hymns in church. Schools, colleges, and universities have their own special songs. Whenever the President of the United States appears at a state function, the band plays “Hail to the Chief.” Two hundred years ago, many, many songs were written to celebrate George Washington. One of the most popular songs in the 18th century was called Yankee Doodle Dandy. Although it was originally a British song, it became a popular American marching song. Look at the verses on the next page. These were some of the popular verses during the American Revolution. There are a number of web sites you can visit for more information on 18th-century music including: www.earlyamerica.com/music www.contemplator.com/america www.18thcenturymusic.com Getting Started Brainstorm with your students the different kinds of music they hear on a daily basis. Do they associate different music with different places? For example, what types of music do they hear at sporting events? In church? At school? How many different kinds of radio stations can they identify? What does that tell them about music today? Tell them that in the 17th-, 18th-, and 19th centuries, the same popular tunes were used over and over with different lyrics. Defining the 18th-century Working in groups or individually, ask your students to read the lyrics to Yankee Doodle and write down words or phrases that are unfamiliar to them. Discuss, look up and define those words as a class and replace them with a modern word or phrase with the same meaning. Celebrating in Music and Song
  2. 2. Yankee Doodle Dandy Yankee Doodle went to town A-riding on a pony Stuck a feather in his hat And called it macaroni Father and I went down to camp Then I saw a swamping gun Along with Captain Gooding As large as logs of Maple And there we saw the men and boys Upon a very little cart As thick as hasty pudding A load for Fathers cattle Yankee Doodle keep it up Yankee Doodle keep it up Yankee Doodle Dandy, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mind the music and the step, Mind the music and the step, And with the girls by handy And with the girls by handy There was Captain Washington Every time they shot it off Upon a slapping Stallion It took a keg of powder A-giving orders to his men- Made a noise like Father’s gun There must have been a million Only a nation louder Yankee Doodle keep it up Yankee Doodle keep it up Yankee Doodle Dandy, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mind the music and the step, Mind the music and the step, And with the girls by handy And with the girls by handy
  3. 3. Song Writing Challenge Working either individually or in groups, assign your students to write at least two new verses to Yankee Doodle that tell us about George Washington’s life and accomplishments. Students can, if they choose, write a new chorus, or keep the original 18th-century version. OR Break your class into groups. Assign each group a specific period of George Washington’s life: Boyhood, French and Indian War, Farmer, Commander in Chief, President of the Constitutional Convention, and President. Each group will write a new four-line verse for Yankee Doodle describing Washington in the role/career their group has been assigned. Ask each group, in chronological order of Washington’s accomplishments, to sing their verse and describe how it tells about George Washington’s accomplishments. Celebrating George Washington in Music and Song Invite each class who has composed a George Washington version of Yankee Doodle to sing at your school’s Dedication Ceremony outlined in the George Washington Celebration Week activity set. Classes can send their songs to education@mountvernon.org to be shared on the Mount Vernon for Teachers Facebook Page