- January 11, 2019 at 12:29 PM #54707
Is your singing repertoire as broad as your curriculum?
It’s common for our students to engage school subjects verbally via the written and spoken word, and visually via printed media or self-created art work. How often do they engage them through song?
While it’s entirely appropriate to teach children a large repertoire of hymns and “spiritual songs,” the power of song can be an integral part of every school subject. Children sing freely about things they resonate with.
One book that offers a variety of songs for elementary is It’s Music Time, by Prairie View Press. It includes songs about animals (Peter Cottontail), motivation for doing well (If You Can’t Climb a Mountain, Then Climb a Hill), American history (Little Old Sod Shanty; Oregon Trail; The Wagon Train), nature (Pitter Patter of the Rain), geography (Northern Lights; Little Swiss Lad; This Land is Your Land; The Railroad Corral), seasons (Buds Have Blossomed; The Year’s at the Spring). Some provide opportunity for developing musical skills via rounds, long choruses (Pitter Patter produces rain-like sounds), and yodeling.
A table of contents for the book can be found at the Prairie View Press website. https://prairieviewpress.com/product/its-music-time/
Prairie View Press offers about 200 song books on their website. Other titles with a broad-subject repertoire include Classroom Chorus Time, Country School Melodies, Golden School Days, Let it Ring, Rounds for Singing, Wildwood School Melodies, Expanded Practical Music Reader.
Incidentally, Prairie View Press also offers 2000 titles for your library. Check out their website.
What other titles does anyone else have to offer that provide songs to sing on topics such as geography, the natural world, history — or mathematics?
- January 12, 2019 at 3:42 PM #54709
Thanks, Jonas, for calling my attention to these song books. I’ve been searching for a source of the “singing school” type songs and hadn’t been successful so far. I found a few of the song titles I’ve been looking for in these books.
- February 24, 2019 at 9:36 PM #55631
Songs often vividly reflect the times and places of their origin, and I like to bring them into my high school history classroom. In my church history class a few weeks ago I sang* some Christmas songs that illustrate important trends in Christianity: “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (Christological controversies in the early church), “Let All Together Praise Our God” (collective, doctrine-focused Christianity of the Reformation), “O How Shall I Receive Thee” (personal, experiential Christianity of 17th century Pietism), and “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” (Enlightenment-influenced liberal Christianity of the 19th century). Tomorrow I’m planning to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as part of a Civil War lesson in my US history class.
*At our school the culture of singing among our students isn’t what it could be (we’re working on it), so performances in my classroom are mostly solos. And even if I sing badly—perhaps especially if I sing badly, provided I do it with conviction—I’ve found that it consistently commands students’ attention.
- February 25, 2019 at 11:08 AM #55632
Jonas SauderModeratorOriginal Poster@jonas
Your reference to The Battle Hymn of the Republic reminds me of the value of introducing some songs of each era (as appropriate) in the history curriculum. Songs add a powerful heart component to the conceptual aspect of history teaching. The heart-wrenching civil war era is particularly noteworthy in this regard. Consider Longfellow’s I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. I always introduced my students to songs such as Tenting on the Old Campground; Just Before the Battle, Mother; and Dixie. Introducing the concept of the power of song and the reason armies have bands helps us understand the heart-pulling power of music and song to “move” soldiers.
On another note–the power of story to illuminate historical issues is phenomenal. I’ll long remember the first time I read A Horseman in the Sky in association with the Civil War.
A caveat is in order here…This mode of teaching is unpredictably powerful in its potential to grip the hearts of students. Consider your current class and its potential to be influenced. Your goal is for them to gain understanding of an era. There is always the potential of their “buying in to something” by receiving it in a way that you didn’t expect.
I wonder who else has something to offer regarding the use of song or story to illuminate history teaching?
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