Everyone in This Tiny Michigan Town Knows the Same Catchy Song—Thanks to One Teacher

By Isaac Constans

May 10, 2023

Kids who grew up in Webberville in the ‘80s and ‘90s know “The Keyboard Song”—and they promise it’s as catchy as any Top-40 track. They also say they type better because of it.

WEBBERVILLE—The mid-Michigan town of Webberville is a one-stoplight, high school football on Fridays type of place where everyone knows everyone. And like many small towns, it has a secret. 

People from Webberville know a song that no one else knows. 

“A, S, D… F, G, H… J, K, L… And a semicolon!”

It’s “The Keyboard Song,” a premise so simple and a song so catchy that it’s been taught in Webberville schools to generations of students. Even decades later, ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s babies still have it stuck in their heads.

The song’s exact year of origin is uncertain. But the creator is Jeanne McKowen—known to Webberville Elementary students as Ms. Showerman, the now-retired art and music teacher famous for directing grand musical performances in the school auditorium. Early in her career, when the school asked McKowen to head up a typing class, she handled it the only way she knew how—with a rhythm and a tune.

Photo courtesy Chris Showerman.

“I had to come up with some way to teach the keyboard to the kids,” McKowen said. “And you know, you put a rhythm in a melody to something and it helps you learn a lot faster.”

The song stuck, and Webberville residents say they still spontaneously hum it or sing it a few times a year. They also say that McKowen’s methodology was spot-on—with such a melody, their fingers can effortlessly maneuver across a computer’s keys with the rehearsed ease of knotting a shoelace.

“When my kids were young, they’d always comment on how fast I’d type,” said Jordan Fuller, a prominent community business owner and fourth-generation Webberville Elementary alumna. “Well, that’s from ‘The Keyboard Song’ and my high school typing class. I’ve used that skill all throughout my adult life.”

Stephany Bohlmann, another former pupil of McKowen’s, said that when the digital age hit, McKowen’s students were ready.

“This whole generation that Ms. Showerman taught, we were already way ahead of the game because we know what the keyboard is without even looking at it,” Bohlmann, who graduated sixth grade in 2005, said.

So, just how catchy is this tune to make typing that exciting? Take a listen.

The original arrangement of notes sounds like it belongs in a “Greatest of Ragtime” record. It’s something that post-war cartoon characters would sing along with and tap dance to with a cane in hand. It’s a bop, as kids nowadays might say.

Fuller called the song “iconic.” In fact, “The Keyboard Song” made such an impression on McKowen’s elementary students that as adults they hold it in the same regard as Top-40 tracks from their childhood, like “Thriller” and “Don’t Stop Believin.’”

“At least once a year, it gets brought up, but it’s playing in our heads individually more than [that],” Bohlmann said.

A recent post in the community Facebook group proves that the song is part of McKowen’s legacy at Webberville and is a source of nostalgia for anyone who had her as a teacher.

Beyond “The Keyboard Song,” former students also remember McKowen as a caring teacher who taught children to embrace the arts and discover their creativity.

Now 83, McKowen no longer teaches. She lives in a retirement community nearby.

On the phone along with her son, Chris, McKowen initially shies away when asked to play the song for us: “Well, I don’t know,” she says. “I haven’t practiced that song in a long time.” Chris jumps in and insists that isn’t true. 

And with such little further encouragement, she slides onto the piano bench. A few taps of the keys later, she’s off in full swing, belting out the song’s locally famous refrain and accompanying verses.

KEWWW, W, E, R, T—Y, U, I, O, P! KEWWW, W, E, R, T—Y-U-I-O-P!”

McKowen and her granddaughters. Photo courtesy Chris Showerman.

McKowen said she didn’t expect the song to outlive her tenure in Webberville. Her goal was simply to make students feel confident and show them through music that they could accomplish whatever they wanted—typing included. 

“The most important thing about having good teachers is the fact that they help students feel good about themselves,” McKowen said.

Now a science teacher at Webberville High School, Bohlmann noticed that many of her students type more like sparrows pecking at seeds—hunched over, neck down, lurching forward. Despite being digital natives, they stare at the keys and plug away one index finger at a time.

“I’m like, what? No one taught you typing?” Bohlmann said. 

So now, in her classes, Bohlmann teaches a new generation of students “The Keyboard Song.”

“J, K, L… And a colon!… SPACE BAR…”

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