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Could Your School Be a "Wiener?"

Curriculum CenterSinging those catchy Oscar Mayer hot dog and bologna jingles can win schools enough money to start or restart their music programs. In the Oscar Mayer School House Jam Talent Search, the best student renditions of the famous food songs earn state winners $10,000 for their schools music programs. The grand prize winner gets $25,000. And thats no bologna! Included: Information about how to enter the contest.

NOTE TO READERS: This article is from deep in our archive. The content of the article is dated, and some links in the article are no longer active. We have left the article on the live site because we believe the information in it might have "idea value" for educators. We apologize for the links that are no longer live. To learn about final results of the competition, you might refer to a press release from Oscar Mayer or a press release from the National Association for Music Education.

Kids have been singing Oscar Mayers catchy hot dog and bologna jingles for years, just for fun. Now, however, student renditions of the tasty tunes can be put to a meatier use -- earning money for school music programs.

The Oscar Mayer School House Jam Talent Search contest offers students in kindergarten through fifth grade the opportunity to submit videotapes of their performances of the Wiener Jingle, Bologna Song, or Spanish Jingle. The top performers from each state win $10,000 for their school music programs. The national grand prize winner earns an additional $15,000 for a grand total of $25,000!

State winners who meet the February 14, 2003, deadline also get a visit from the companys famous Wienermobile, a 7-foot-long hot dog on wheels. Schools that meet the early-bird deadline of December 20, 2002, could win a chance for an additional Wienermobile visit.

The contest, which is judged by an external organization, is run by Oscar Mayer, with support from the National Association for Music Education (MENC). This is a very crucial program for providing funding for music programs and having fun at the same time, Dr. Willie L. Hill Jr., president of MENC, told Education World. It provides fuel for delivering music education to students.


Oscar Mayer has been sponsoring a talent contest for children since 1995. In the contests first year, the company received 2,400 entries, representing the efforts of more than 60,000 students from across the United States.

Last year, Oscar Meyer adopted the School House Jam format to allow more students to participate, according to Rich Green, the companys associate brand manager. This was an opportunity to expand the talent search to groups of students, rather than individuals, Green told Education World. We really wanted to help music programs, and the Oscar Mayer songs have been popular for years. This was a natural fit.

Last year, Green said, Oscar Mayer awarded $500,000 in prize money; the company expects to distribute $515,000 to this years winners.


At a time when music program funding continues to decrease, $10,000 can transform a school music department. Anna Caldwell, music teacher at Albert Einstein Public School (P.S. 131) in the Bronx, New York, supervised the production that won last years grand prize. The money, which went to purchase software for a piano lab, a CD burner, electronic pianos, books for the chorus, four keyboards, and more band instruments, has provided more opportunities for more students, Caldwell told Education World.

[The purchases] bring us into the 21st century in education and allow kids to learn all facets of the music industry, said Caldwell, a music teacher for 31 years. The kids can even burn CDs of the songs they write! This has opened up the music program to more students.

By the time Caldwell learned about last years contest, the class only had ten days to submit their entry before the deadline. I never thought wed win, Caldwell said. I had never entered anything before.

Seventy Albert Einstein fifth graders took part in the project, which included three versions of the Bologna Song: a rap, a swing arrangement, and a gospel arrangement. A student wrote the rap, the physical education teacher helped with the swing number, and Caldwell worked on the gospel arrangement. The phys ed teachers also helped with special effects, such as providing smoke for the segues from one musical genre to another.

For the swing version, school personnel transformed the auditorium stage into a 1940s cabaret, with students dressed in period clothes. Students in choir robes sang the gospel arrangement in front of the auditorium stage curtains. The rap number was filmed in the school corridors.


The level of excitement among the Utah state winners at Heber Valley Elementary School no doubt rivaled that of the youngsters from the Bronx. To become the top dogs in their state, 50 third through fifth graders from the school sang the Wiener Jingle, as some students played ukuleles and others performed dance moves.

Heber Valley used its award money to purchase more instruments for students, including hand drums, xylophones, and glockenspiels. The school also purchased music software and a CD player.

The publicity has been a morale booster for the school and the town, according to teacher Paula Vee Kerr, who worked with the students and taught them to play the ukulele. It was just excellent; they gained so much, Kerr told Education World. I saw a lot of cooperation among the grade levels.


Although the prize money provides critical cash for school music programs, many teachers pointed out that just preparing the presentations is a valuable educational experience, even for those who dont win. As Caldwell told Education World, being part of a team and meeting a deadline was good training for her students. The participation definitely was a learning and educational process, she noted.

Kerr is eager to enter the contest again. Even if we dont win, [preparing an entry] will be very positive for the school, she said.

The creativity demanded by the contest helps sets it apart, said Hill. MENC is not just about studying music, but about making music. This is an opportunity for kids to dig and delve into their musical talents; to try to shine above other programs. Music should be fun -- and this is.


Ellen R. Delisio
Copyright © 2007 Education World