Greetings and best wishes for a celebratory Fourth of July! One can only wonder how the days pass so quickly, and we find ourselves returning again and again to important milestones in our lives. Many of us will gather with friends, family, and perhaps neighbors on the Fourth. Some of my favorite memories stem from gatherings on the porch of my home as good food, music, and reminisces of years gone by are shared while the sky illuminates with fireworks.
While serving as our first President of the United States, George Washington advocated the importance of universal education with this statement: "The best means of forming a manly, virtuous, and happy people will be found in the right education of youth. Without this foundation every other means, in my opinion, must fail." Making music and improvising melodies and harmonies helps to create an atmosphere of camaraderie and shared experience that is unique among the fine arts. Whether one strums, sings, plays the spoons, dances a jig, or just taps a toe, that participation functions to combine the contribution of individuals to form a whole unit of performance. This is one of the major reasons music education is so important in the elementary school. Students come to us from very diverse backgrounds, and they need to learn how to function as positive contributors in the social groups they form. While singing, moving, and playing instruments, students develop social skills that will serve them and the communities they form in positive ways.
With these thoughts in mind and moving back to the subject of the Fourth of July, I have decided to share an arrangement I created of the Spiritual, "Freedom Song." My students always performed this song with enthusiasm, bonding together to present its upbeat message. I published "Freedom Song" in 2005 as one of the eight arrangements scored in INSTANT INTERMEDIATES (BB208). The arrangement, displayed below, offers three basic parts to accompany the melody and is suitable for beginning players. When preparing "Freedom Song" in a general classroom setting, I suggest using the practice track or playing a guitar or piano to set the tempo while the students learn to play the scored metal, wood, and bass parts that accompany the singers.
Posted below is an excerpt of third, fourth, and fifth graders performing "Freedom Song."
This arrangement of "Freedom Song" was very popular with my students, and we often performed it at our PTA programs. If you would like a digital copy of the audio accompaniment that I created for this arrangement, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will email you the audio files for the practice and performance tracks.
That's “Brad's Beat” for July, 2015. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July! Don't hesitate to call (800) 424-4724 or visit us on the web at www.rhythmband.com if we can be of assistance to you in your program. Keep the beat.
President, BLB Studios
Elementary Music Specialist, Rhythm Band Instruments