Don’t You Just Know It

GRADE: K-2, 3-5
SUBJECT: Music, History, Culture
GENRE: New Orleans Rhythm and Blues
TOPIC: Call and Response
DISCIPLINE: Music General


In this lesson, students will learn the song “Don’t You Just Know It,” one of six lessons in the New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Unit. Students will learn about vocal ranges and how juxtaposing them can be used for humorous effects. Students will learn the musical devices “call and response” and “echo” and how they appear in instrumental and vocal music.



  • Sing the lyrics of “Don’t You Just Know It.”
  • Apply the unique and special rhythms of a song.
  • Identify parts of a song, such as verses and choruses. 
  • Identify chord structures and how combinations of chords are building blocks that constitute sections of songs. 
  • Differentiate between “call and response” and “echo.” 
  • Identify and describe vocal ranges.



National Core Arts Standards

MU:Cr1.1.K.b With guidance, generate musical ideas (such as movements or motives).
MU:Cr1.1.1.b With limited guidance, generate musical ideas in multiple tonalities (such as major and minor) and meters (such as duple and triple).
MU:Cr1.1.2.b Generate musical patterns and ideas within the context of a given tonality (such as major and minor) and meter (such as duple and triple).
MU:Cr1.1.3.b Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms and melodies) within a given tonality and/or meter.
MU:Cr1.1.4.b Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms, melodies, and simple accompaniment patterns) within related tonalities (such as major and minor) and meters.
MU:Cr1.1.5.b Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms, melodies, and accompaniment patterns) within specific related tonalities, meters, and simple chord changes.

Common Core State Standards

RL.K.4 Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
RL.1.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
RL.4.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
RL.5.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.



This unit could be used by a vocal or music teacher, or an educator integrating music into general instruction. The teacher should familiarize themselves with the tune “Don’t You Just Know It” and the contributions of Huey “Piano” Smith to the genre New Orleans R&B . Teachers should review the media resources in the lesson prior to teaching. 





  1. Display slide 3 of the presentation Don’t You Just Know It to play the first chorus of Huey “Piano” Smith – “Don’t You Just Know It.” Ask students: What do you notice about the vocal range of the singers? Play the chorus again if necessary. 


  1. Tell students they were listening to the song “Don’t You Just Know It” by Huey “Piano” Smith. Display slide 4 of the presentation to show students a photo of Smith and watch the video About Don’t You Just Know It. Smith had a group of singers called The Clowns. One singer would sing in low pitches, another would sing in high pitches, and another would sing in a funny voice. Like many songwriters of the day, Huey Smith had an ear for catchy sayings and kids’ chants and wrote songs based on that material. Ask students: Can you think of any songs that come from a saying or a catchy phrase? Have students brainstorm songs from their own background knowledge.


  1. Huey Piano Smith is one of the founding fathers of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues. Whether as a sideman for such greats as guitarists Earl King and Smiley Lewis or as the leader with his vocal group The Clowns, Smith created the quintessential New Orleans Rhythm and Blues piano sound. His use of children’s sing-song rhymes, Mardi Gras Indian chants, and popular catchphrases created the blueprint for early rock and roll songwriting. The Mount Rushmore of New Orleans R&B Piano is Fats Domino, Huey Piano Smith, and Professor Longhair.


  1. Share the resource Huey “Piano” Smith to build students’ background about Smith and The Clowns. Discuss Smith’s essential role in the genre New Orleans Rhythm and Blues. 



  1. Distribute the Lyrics: “Don’t You Just Know It” to students and display slide 5. Ask students to sing the first line, “I can’t lose with the stuff I use,” in their lowest voice. The teacher should model using a low singing voice. Then, using the lyrics “baby don’t believe I wear two left shoes,” ask the students to sing in their highest-pitched voices. The teacher should model using their highest-pitched singing voice. Students can accompany the instrumental version of the song in the video “Don’t You Just Know It” – Instrumental on slide 6.


  1. “Don’t You Just Know It” was another common saying that Huey Smith decided to make into a song. Huey Smith utilizes the vocal ranges of the singers in The Clowns for comic effect. “Don’t You Just Know It” also utilizes call and response and echo. Tell students an echo is when one person or a group says a thing and another group says the same thing back. A call and response is when a person says one thing and the group responds with something different. Begin with an example of each. Display the handout Call and Response & Echo Strategy to review these musical devices.


  1. Referencing the lesson “Song Structures,” identify which parts of the song are verses and which parts are choruses. With the song “Don’t You Just Know It” the verses are call and response and the choruses are an echo. Students can look at the lyrics and listen to the “Don’t You Just Know It” – Vocals video as they identify the parts. 


  1. Perform the song as an ensemble. Assign the low voice and high voice call to an individual or a small group of students. The teacher will accompany the students with a piano, guitar, or the Don’t You Just Know It” – Instrumental video.


  1. Enrichment: To extend learning for students, play the chord changes in rhythm on basic pitched instruments, boomwhackers, or Orff instruments. Reference the chord chart for “Don’t You Just Know It.”



  1. Assess students’ knowledge of the song “Don’t You Just Know It” with a written reflection. Ask students to analyze the Lyrics: “Don’t You Just Know It” by annotating the vocal parts. Have students underline the low-pitched voice (John Williams), circle the high-pitched voice (Gerri Allen), bracket the “call” in the call and response (Bobby Marchan), and shade group vocals. Evaluate students’ knowledge of applying various vocal ranges through their performance


  1. Have students create their own call and responses and echos. For example, if their school is named after an individual, the call can be the first name and the response can be the last name. This can be applied to anyone’s name or a class catchphrase.



Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.

Davis Rogan, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Content Curator



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