Lesson 1: Learning “Five Feet High and Rising”

Aim: How do the musical elements of modulation, verse, and lyrics tell a story in “Five Feet High and Rising?”
Summary: Students are introduced to a country music ballad and recognize how modulation between verses is used to visualize lyrics in “Five Feet High and Rising.”  
Materials: Music Explorers online audio
Standards: GA: ESGMK-2.PR.3; ESGMK-2.RE.1; ESGMK-2.RE.2; ESGMK-2.RE.3; ESGMK-2.CN.1; ESGMK-2.CN.2 
SC: MK-2GM.6 MK-2GM.9 MK-2GM.10 
Vocabulary: ballad, guitar, modulation, verse
See Glossary →

Discuss Country Music
  • Your students may already know about country music. Ask students as a full class or in pairs:
  • What can you tell me/each other about country music? 
  • Who are some country singers/bands/songs that you have heard of? 
  • If you are familiar with country music, how would you describe it? Where have you heard it/seen it?
  • After discussion, share Anders’ introduction video. 
Explore the Lyrics in “Five Feet High and Rising”
  • “Five Feet High and Rising” is the story of a storm and the flooding thereafter. Listen to “Five Feet High and Rising,” Track 06.

Track 06 – Five Feet High and Rising

  • Discuss the lyrics with your students.
  • What kind of place is Anders singing about? Is it in the city or country? How can you tell? 
  • “Five Feet High and Rising” is a ballad. A ballad is a story that is set to music. Each verse of the song tells a different part of the story.
  • Turn to a partner and explain in your own words what is happening in the story of this ballad.
Explore Modulation in “Five Feet High and Rising” 
  • There are four verses in this song. The verses tell the story of a song. Each verse has the same melody but different lyrics. 
  • In “Five Feet High and Rising” there is a musical change between each verse. Ask your students if they can hear the musical change.
  • What change do you hear in the music? 
  • Listen to the song again. When you hear the change, raise both hands over your head. 
  • The song is getting higher with each verse. When all of the notes of a song get higher or lower at the same time, that is called modulation
  • Listen to the song again and use body movements to show all the modulations:
  • First verse: students put their hands on their knees. 
  • Second verse: Hands on hips 
  • Third verse: Hands on shoulders 
  • Fourth verse: Arms stretched overhead
“Five Feet High and Rising”

Verse 1 
How high’s the water, mama?
Two feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
Two feet high and risin’
We can make it to the road in a homemade boat
That’s the only thing we got left that’ll float
It’s already over all the wheat and the oats,
Two feet high and risin’ 

Verse 2 
How high’s the water, mama?
Three feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
Three feet high and risin’
Well, the hives are gone, I’ve lost my bees
The chickens are sleepin’
In the willow trees
Cow’s in water up past her knees,
Three feet high and risin’

Verse 3 
How high’s the water, mama?
Four feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
Four feet high and risin’
Hey, come look through the window pane,
The bus is comin’, gonna take us to the train
Looks like we’ll be blessed with a little more rain,
Four feet high and risin’ 

Verse 4 
How high’s the water, mama?
Five feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
Five feet high and risin’
Well, the rails are washed out north of town
We gotta head for higher ground
We can’t come back till the water comes down,
Five feet high and risin’
Well, it’s five feet high and risin’

Create a Scene with Music
  • Think about what it feels like when you experience different kinds of weather as a class or in small groups. 
  • Decide what kind of weather you would like to write about, or use one of the suggestions in SG17
  • Imagine and describe the scene when that weather is happening outside. Encourage students to use the five senses to try and capture all of the details.
  • In the song “Five Feet High and Rising” we hear the music get higher as the water gets higher. Let’s think of some other ways that music can help add detail to our weather scene. (e.g., loud and soft, bouncy and smooth sounds, fast and slow) 
  • Using SG17, complete your song as a class or in small groups. 
  • Share and discuss how the music helped the listener imagine the scene. 

Creative Extension: Decorate Your Own Guitar

Many different instruments can be heard in country music. Anders shared with us that he not only plays the guitar, but he makes them as well. Country music artists often decorate their guitars and guitar straps to share something special about them to the audience e.g., favorite color, band name, or a special symbol. Some musicians even give their guitar a name! Watch a video of Anders making a guitar below:

On SG18, learn the parts of the guitar and decorate it in a way that tells something special about yourself.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words ballad, guitar, modulation, and verse to the Musical Word Wall.
See Glossary →

PDF Downloads

SG17 – Create a Scene With Music ↓ Download File
SG18 – Decorate Your Own Guitar ↓ Download File

Audio Tracks

Track 06 – Five Feet High and Rising

Lesson 2: Learning “Beauty and Magic” →