Word by Word's Music Man: Peter Bliss
Bill Bliss and Steve Molinsky

Teachers often tell us that among their favorite features of the Word by Word and Word by Word Basic Picture Dictionary programs are the "WordSongs" that are now included with the student books and offer musical practice with key vocabulary in each unit. The "man behind the music" is Peter Bliss, a songwriter, recording artist, and music producer based in New York City.

Peter has composed songs for Barbra Streisand, NSync, and other performers, and he has provided original songs and underscores to film and television projects for MTV, VH1, the Children's Television (Sesame) Workshop, and many other media companies. He also serves as a consultant for the Songwriters Hall of Fame, creating workshops, talent showcases, and special event programs for up-and-coming songwriters. (Peter has also contributed all the songs and musical underscores for our Side by Side textbook program and TV series and the Side by Side Interactive CD-ROM/multimedia program.)

Learning through Lyrics
One of Peter's favorite projects has been the creation of songs to accompany the picture dictionary programs. When we first brainstormed with him ideas for musical themes and styles that would go along with the wide range of topics covered in the dictionaries, he suggested choosing different genres of popular music inspired by the content and situations depicted in the various units.

As a result, we've wound up with an eclectic mix of tunes. A song celebrating The City evokes the style of Billy Joel, a rap number describes all the extracurricular activities available After School, a country music tune tells the story of Supermarket Sally who works the checkout line, and in one of the most popular songs, we're Going to the Beach classic rock style and packing lots of recreation nouns to "have fun in the sun in the summertime."

For Your Play List and Your Students
Here is an audio file you can download for one of Peter's newest
Word by Word tunes for teaching shopping vocabulary:

Wilson's Department Store

And here are the reproducible worksheets for the song — a lyrics sheet and a cloze exercise — which you can find in the Lesson Planner books and CD-ROMs included with the Teacher's Guides.

A Final "Word"
Peter's reflection on his musical work for these education projects: "It's a great thrill to bring language learning to life through songs that reach out and educate so many around the globe. As the Word by Word theme song lyric goes, 'Word by Word we discover, We're all sisters and brothers, Learning about each other . . . word by word.'" (Download the audio file here!)