“The Rap of the States” was not only a dynamic choral and musical competition, but a natural outgrowth of Connetquot Elementary School’s social studies curriculum. Fifth-graders at Connetquot are focused on learning not only the geography of the states, but also their capitals, in alphabetical order by state. The students were encouraged to produce a finished musical project in salute to the 50 states, under the guidance of music teacher Eileen Egbert. In the process, the children learned about musical form, composition, dynamics, phrasing and rhythms. Several played the musical instruments they study in band and orchestra. Each class decided on their own uniquely dramatic gestures and poses to emphasize certain phrases and state capitals, then unveiled their mini-masterpieces in a sing-off on November 17.

The opening performance came from teacher Robert Chiarelli’s class, aka the Blue Team. They opted to sing the song as written, without any musical changes, instead utilizing black light, white gloves and choreography to convey their interpretation. Paraprofessional Patricia Henry sewed drawstrings on all the gloves and painted them for the students.

Next up was the White Team – students from David Lake, Danielle Sternberg and William Young’s class. This group decided to use beatboxing and sing the entire first section a cappella, rearranging the rest of the rap. They also learned to play “Yankee Doodle” on their hand-painted soprano recorders.  

The final performance came from Deborah Graham’s class, the Red Team, whose arrangement proved the winner. After some minor technical difficulties that led to a restart, they put on an impressive show, making full use of each student’s talents on orchestral and band instruments, electric guitar, xylophone and Orff instruments.

“As far as I am concerned,” said Egbert, “all of my students are first-place winners!”

“This was a wonderful culmination of music and social studies lessons integrated into a fabulous performing arts production,” added Principal Deborah Smith. “The students participated in this competition with great excitement and enthusiasm. ‘The Rap of the States’ certainly brought out the best of their creative talents. Mrs. Egbert expects nothing but the best from the students at Connetquot, and they certainly lived up to her high expectations of perfect articulation and musical style.”