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#61522 - 11/08/12 02:03 PM "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct?
bnich Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/07/09
Posts: 233
Yesterday I was teaching a 6-yr-old beginning student, using "Jungle Wedding" from MFPA A to have her find C and F on the piano. She pointed out the "Big, Fat and Wide" lyrics and I answered her question about that with "Well, it's not nice to call someone fat unless they use it to describe themselves." Then we discussed gorillas and other monkeys, me pointing out that gorillas are big, other monkeys smaller, she telling me about some very small monkeys she had seen at the zoo.

Some facts about me -
I am fat (and have been teased/bullied about it)
Have been fat all my life
Now am less fat, having lost about 100lbs over the past few years, but am still fat

When I teach this song, I don't play the CD track, focus on the notes rather than the words, mainly using it as a tool to have students find C and F's all over the keyboard. I admit that these lyrics have always made me uncomfortable, but try not to make a big deal about it in front of students.

So do you think the lyrics should be changed, or am I being "too sensitive" about it?

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#61523 - 11/08/12 02:16 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: bnich]
Joyful Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 757
Loc: Southern Ontario, Canada
First of all, congrats on your weight loss! What an achievement!

I remember playing this with students and saying something like, it's not nice to call people fat, but here we're talking about animals, etc. etc. I tried not to make a big deal about it either, but stated it wasn't nice to call people fat (as the song does). I think most kids would realize it is a fun song and not meant to bully or tease anyone.

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#61524 - 11/08/12 02:16 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: bnich]
pianojazzgirl Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/26/03
Posts: 847
Loc: Montreal
I was surprised by the lyrics first time I saw them. Definitely not a great message to be sending to our kids, and I'd prefer if there were different lyrics. I don't usually spend much time on Jungle Wedding and usually we tap the rhythm, sing the letter names to get used to them, then quickly move onto the elevator song. Sometimes we just sing over and over "here comes the bride" as we move up the keyboard. That's the part the kids know anyway.

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#61526 - 11/08/12 03:58 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: pianojazzgirl]
Leigh Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 02/05/09
Posts: 368
Loc: Michigan
This one has always made me feel a bit uncomfortable, so I'm quick to point out to the student that the bride and groom are baboons, which are big and wide (though not particularly fat).

The other one that bothers me is "Where is the Wabbit." Before the student gets a chance to sound out the title, I begin with "Where is the Rabbit." A lot of them pronounce it "wabbit" anyway, but I don't want to encourage that OR be making fun of children or adults who have a speech impediment.

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#61527 - 11/08/12 06:43 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: Leigh]
pianojazzgirl Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/26/03
Posts: 847
Loc: Montreal
Yes! The first kid I taught using MFPA pronounced all his Rs as Ws. There was no way I was going to say "where is the wabbit"... it would sound like I was mocking him! frown So I always say "where is the rabbit".

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#61530 - 11/08/12 09:45 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: pianojazzgirl]
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Oh come on. Where is our ability to laugh at ourselves? I've lost 72 lbs and I have never once thought those words were referring to fat people. What about the "Too Fat Polka"? one of the best songs ever!! I don't want her, you can have her, she's too fat for me, she's too fat for me, she's too fat for me. So fun! (Yea, yea, I know, we're all going to die in political correctness), Even Mama Cass could sing about herself - "everyone is getting fat, 'cept mama cass". I'm sure we could find many more. If you can't laugh, what's life all about?

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#61531 - 11/08/12 10:28 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: Leigh]
Ladyhighgloss Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 10/23/12
Posts: 36
Loc: Midwest
Thanks! That really can affect a little kid. My son didn't get help with his 'r's until 4th grade. He never wanted to speak up in class due to that problem.
You sound very sensitive to your students. I love it. :-)

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#61532 - 11/08/12 10:32 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: Lilla]
Ladyhighgloss Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 10/23/12
Posts: 36
Loc: Midwest
I laugh about my weight all the time, unless my knees are hurting, then it's not so funny ;-).

When I was a kid in ballet class, my mom took a seat (folding chair) and the thing broke right out from under her, just like in a movie. I was mortified, as was she.

So now that I'm taking piano lessons, on which I have to place my posterior on a bench for the whole thing, that memory rarely escapes the confines of my skull. I just hope I'm not playing that song while it breaks. That'd be too much. lol


Edited by Ladyhighgloss (11/08/12 10:33 PM)

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#61533 - 11/09/12 12:29 AM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: Ladyhighgloss]
musicat Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/29/11
Posts: 318
Loc: San Antonio, Texas
I think "Jungle Wedding" is trying to bring the analogy of the full keyboard being big, fat and wide. To a young child, it is. While I discuss that it isn't nice to call a person "fat" with young students, we also discuss large animals, that elephants are even larger than baboons, that the lion--king of the jungle--is smaller than the elephant, and that the keyboard is very wide. In some cultures, though, it isn't considered an insult to call a person fat (I grew up with a kid who went by the nickname "Gordo" which is the Spanish word for fat. I remember some teachers thinking it was insulting, but he said it was his name, and he knew it meant fat...and thought those who thought he shouldn't be called that were a little crazy. I don't recall him having a poor self-esteem, either). I also get giggles in my studio regarding words like "ritardando", especially when it is abbreviated "ritard." Good lesson on Latin roots.

As far as children being insulted by pronunciations, 17 years of working with children in the field of Speech-Language Pathology certainly taught me that there are more adults concerned about children being teased about their speech issues than children concerned about being teased. Also, most children have very little awareness of their own mispronunciations until second or third grade. Even then, some kids don't notice their own mispronunciations. I used to regularly audio--then later, videotape students. I would have students who sincerely believed that adult's voices (mine) sound exactly the same on the tape, but kid's voices (theirs) don't. The videotaping was a very effective tool for kids once they hit 4th--and sometimes 3rd--grade and above, however, as they realized their speech sound errors and were motivated to change them (this is not to say I couldn't motivate preschoolers-3rd graders, but the process was very different). In regards to the song, I introduce the character as a rabbit whose name is "Wabbit." I accept either the pronunciation "rabbit" or "wabbit" and don't make a big deal out of it. I can't yet recall any child for whom it has been an issue.

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#61536 - 11/09/12 01:47 AM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: pianojazzgirl]
bnich Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/07/09
Posts: 233
Originally Posted By: pianojazzgirl
...Sometimes we just sing over and over "here comes the bride" as we move up the keyboard...


That's what I do with my students - sometimes I'll play more of the Wedding march for them, or the "Star Wars" theme or the fanfare to "Hail to the Chief" (other songs that use P4ths)

Interesting that another poster mentioned "Where is the Wabbit?" in light of a student who could not pronounce R's. Oddly enough, I had the same issue as a child, and got taken to speech therapy until I learned to do it (though I still have trouble rolling R's, as in Spanish or German)

And social issues like this (being aware and distressed over being 'different' from others) tend to crop up in the early school years. I remember one student at the same age as the one I mentioned almost being in tears because people stared at and treated her differently because of her dwarfism...

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#61537 - 11/09/12 07:40 AM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: bnich]
ndmr Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/18/10
Posts: 341
Since MFPA is for the very young who cannot read properly anyway, the song texts are very rarely used in my lessons. We look at the pictures, read the title and then sing along as they (or I ) play,either using letter names or counting out loud. Perhaps the texts could be a problem if using the CD, but if not, they are actually irreverent, I find.

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#61539 - 11/09/12 09:44 AM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: ndmr]
pianojazzgirl Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/26/03
Posts: 847
Loc: Montreal
I'm actually pretty easy going and not particularly hung up on "political correctness", but those two pieces (lyrics) still bug me. There was just no way I was going to start chanting about a "wabbit" with that little boy. Now I'm in the habit of saying "rabbit" (I've got a rabbit habit, lol). And I remember singing the "big fat and wide" version of Here Comes the Bride when I was a kid and it's not really something I want to pass on to other kids. I have enough friends who have struggled with their weight who I know would be unimpressed with a teacher teaching kids those lyrics, you know?

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#61542 - 11/09/12 11:57 AM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: pianojazzgirl]
ransomed Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 01/05/11
Posts: 223
Loc: New York, USA
I think "big, fat and wide" refers to the bride's wedding gown. Her dress is puffy... and notice that the song doesn't call the groom fat... he's not wearing the dress.

It's an assonance, Where and Wabbit. Regardless of the pronunciation, the kids love this game. It is so easy to break it out whenever we need a key name review. I tap a pencil to the beat of the rhyme and land it on a key. The student names it. They all want to use the "magic wand" (pencil) for their turn. It doesn't matter what lyrics you choose. Sing what your heart tells you is right.

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#61543 - 11/09/12 12:11 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: ransomed]
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
I'm not familiar with the Rabbit. But for the Jungle Wedding, I have shown it to dozens of kids. It's about Baboons! We have fun and laugh at picturing the silly Baboons. Never once has it been related to people. It's about fourths! That what we are learning, and that's what we listen for, model, and play. What do we gain by encouraging our students to be overly sensitive and relate random words and pictures to something personal? There is too much of it and it's reached a point where you can't say or do anything without offending someone. Enough! Let's just get back to common sense.

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#61546 - 11/09/12 12:38 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: Lilla]
John Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/29/01
Posts: 2454
Loc: Bellingham, WA
Maybe this is an opportunity to comment on how beautiful the baboon bride is in her gown - all "big, fat, and wide".

Often things become a big deal to children because it's the adults who make a big deal out of it.

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#61548 - 11/09/12 11:50 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: John]
GailS Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 01/23/06
Posts: 618
John and musical, these ideas are brilliant and I'm going to start using both of them! Thank you.

Originally Posted By: John
Maybe this is an opportunity to comment on how beautiful the baboon bride is in her gown - all "big, fat, and wide".

Often things become a big deal to children because it's the adults who make a big deal out of it.


Originally Posted By: musicat
In regards to the song, I introduce the character as a rabbit whose name is "Wabbit." I accept either the pronunciation "rabbit" or "wabbit" and don't make a big deal out of it. I can't yet recall any child for whom it has been an issue.

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#61552 - 11/10/12 06:54 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: GailS]
Nancyspiano Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/07/09
Posts: 221
For what it's worth, my kids love, love, love this piece. We don't dwell much on the words. But what they really enjoy is when they get to dress up like the bride (with an actual bridal veil) or groom (with my husband's tux bow tie). As they perform the piece, I video or take a picture for mom and dad, and the kids really enjoy being the "star." It's one of their favorite pieces in the book!

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#61554 - 11/12/12 11:11 AM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: bnich]
bmbutler Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 01/31/11
Posts: 127
Gracious! Politically correct or not? Good grief!

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#61558 - 11/12/12 03:38 PM Re: "Jungle Wedding" - Politically correct? [Re: Leigh]
Kelli Killmer Offline
New Member

Registered: 07/18/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Minnesota
In Where is the Wabbit, I've always said that the Rabbit's name is Wabbit and instead of saying Where is THE wabbit, I just omit the word "the". The students and I usually giggle together at the Rabbit's silly name. I've never seen it as making fun of a speech impediment.

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