During the WWI years, almost every family had a piano with at least one person who knew how to play it. For this reason, sheet music helped the American government mobilize the nation for war. The music that came out during World War I was used as a propaganda tool to help convince people to help the war effort in a variety of ways including enlistment, help with financing the war, support for the Allies, hatred of the enemy, pushing messages of hope/optimism, etc.
When the U.S. first went to war, anti-war sentiment was still quite strong among the American citizens, so the government created the Committee on Public Information to help convince Americans to aid the war effort. George Creel was in charge of this committee that employed 75,000 "four-minute men" to get propaganda messages out to the American people (often using music as a tool.) Americans were urged to sing the new patriotic songs that were written, often using the word “we” to make people feel involved in the war effort. Singing took place in the home, in theaters, during community events, and at rallies with marching bands and popular singers in attendance. Songbooks of patriotic music were given out to audiences in music halls and even to the troops. Sheet music was advertised in newspapers and samples of new songs were given out with the Sunday paper. The covers of the sheet music were also chosen to specifically help push the patriotic messages the government was trying to send to the American people.
Even though the music didn’t always have accurate data about what was going on abroad, it did inspire patriotism and hope and was very popular. Many people in the music industry became very rich during the war years because the sheet music was so well-liked. One music publisher, Leo Feist, claimed that music would help win the war and based on the amount of music that came out during this time and the impact that it had on the war effort, it seems as though he was right.