While schools typically maintain distinct subject areas, 21st-century learners need to understand that knowledge is multi-faceted. One of the most effective ways for educators to address all standards, thus preparing students for life beyond PreK-12 schooling, entails teaching across the curriculum. School librarians work in an interesting space; they rarely possess a school-set curriculum to follow! (This certainly comes with plenty of opportunities, as well as challenges.) For the next several weeks, “Tammy’s Teaching Tidbit” will highlight how interdisciplinary education might look in the library.
The first cross-curricular effort involves music education. One of the literacies, and often the first to develop, is music intelligence. Music intelligence is the ability to create and appreciate pitch, timbre, and rhythm. Additionally, it encourages appreciation of many forms of musical expressions (Lamb, & Johnson, 2006). Music helps set the mood and can be used to motivate listeners, as well.
The National Association of Music Education also recognizes that technology plays a vital role in the development of 21st-century skills (Santos Green, 2014). Most school librarians teach, at least some, technology lessons! Although the music classroom and the library might seem like near opposites within the school system, both hold the same goal of opening young minds to numerous areas of learning (Damon, 2003).
Significance of Music in Education
Music has a strong and vast history, dating back to the beginning of humankind. (Some very basic histories of music can be found here, here, and here.) As such, music offers students opportunities to study artists and composers, different styles and trends, and the mechanics of instruments.
Music holds a substantial cultural significance. Different racial and religious regions around the world possess distinguishing instruments and tones. Middle Eastern, African, and Asian are examples. This music is used for ceremonies, meditation and prayer, and day-to-day bonding with others.
Music touches people on emotional levels. It helps teach self-control, self-confidence, and self-regulation. From a more social standpoint, music, particularly when conducted in groups, helps grow leadership and social skills, as well as empathy (Creating, 2019).
Ways to Use Music Education in the Library
- Conduct read-alouds of books about music! Not only can such titles open learners’ eyes (or ears, depending upon how you view it) to different types of music and artists, but they also encourage further exploration of musical topics.
- Use music to create. Part of music intelligence involves students being able to use, manipulate, and create original music. In the library setting, using music in such ways is most likely to occur either in the creation of multi-media projects or as makerspace activities.
- Research! Broad research topics might include biographical information about current and/or past performers and music creators, the ins and outs of musical instruments, or the history of dance and how it incorporates into cultural ceremonies.
- Play music in the background, especially when wanting to set a specific mood. For example, calming classical music would be appropriate to play when students are expected to check out books and read on their own.
- Use the mood-enhancing properties of music by having students listen to a musical work and then either write or create a piece of art from the emotions they experience.
*If you need a bit more persuasion to include music education in library time, look at the Library Media Content Standards. Music education can address nearly every standard in Personal Literacy and Information Literacy! It also tackles various standards of Digital Citizenship, especially as students increase their creative digital footprints.
An Added Note
While music education can be a part of library classes and literacy development, these lessons do not need to fall strictly on the librarian’s shoulders! Music educators are rarely asked to collaborate with other teachers; however, this does not mean they aren’t open to the possibilities. This might be especially true since music education ranges through many aspects, from dance to the sciences behind sound production (Pierce, 2009).
Books Highlighting Music
Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Music by Rebecca Sjonger (Middle School)
Music by Stephen M. Tomecek (Middle School)
The History of Music in Fifty Instruments by Philip Wilkinson (Middle School +)
The Oboe Goes Boom, Boom, Boom by Colleen A.F. Venable (Primary Elementary)
The Petes Go Marching by James Dean (Primary Elementary)
Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Upper Elementary)
Who Was Louis Armstrong? by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Upper Elementary)
Who Were the Beatles? by Geoff Edgers (Upper Elementary)
Because by Mo Willems (Primary Elementary)
Welcome to the Symphony: A Musical Exploration of the Orchestra Using Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 by Carolyn Sloan (PreK-Primary Elementary)
The ABCs of Rock by Randy Diderrich (PreK-Elementary)
The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue by Suzanne Slade (Elementary)
Videos About Music
90 Global Musical Instruments | From A to Z | Lesson #7 (Upper Elementary and Middle School)
75 Popular Asian Musical Instruments | Lesson #8 (Upper Elementary and Middle School)
Musical Instruments Names and Sounds for Kids to Learn (PreK through Primary Elementary)
Unheard of Instruments in the Saxophone Family (Middle and High School)
The Muppets take on A Cappella – “Cool Kids” (Upper Elementary +)
Silly Symphony – The Tortoise and the Hare (Elementary)
Up Close With A Curator: Octobasse (Upper Elementary +)
Class Notes: How do Composers Compose? (Upper Elementary and Middle School)
Kids Meet an Opera Singer | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids (Elementary)
Instrument Families (Upper Elementary +)
Clara Schumann – Music History Crash Course (High School)
The Origins of Music – The Story of Guido – Music History Crash Course (Middle and High School)
Damon, S. (2003, Winter). From the bookshelf: A librarian with a music educator an unstoppable teaching duo. General Music Today, 16(2). https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA108784995&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=10483713&p=AONE&sw=w&userGroupName=ndacad_58072zndv.
Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2006, December). Turn up the music with digital technologies. Teacher Librarian, 34(2). https://web.s.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=7&sid=53edd97e-3275-4b5b-8d2c-dcb69f1d9bd8%40redis&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=23396554&db=aph.
Music Together Worldwide. (2019, April 23). Creating harmony: How music can support social emotional development. Music Together. https://www.musictogether.com/blog/creating-harmony-how-music-can-support-social-emotional-development/#:~:text=The%20simple%20and%20enjoyable%20act%20of%20making%20music,self-confidence%2C%20leadership%20skills%2C%20social%20skills%2C%20and%20socio-emotional%20intelligence..
Pierce, D.L. (2009, December). Influencing the now and future faculty:
Retooling information literacy. Notes, 66(2), 233-248. https://web.s.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=10&sid=53edd97e-3275-4b5b-8d2c-dcb69f1d9bd8%40redis.
Santos Green, L. (2014, November/December). School librarians and music educators: A concert for student success. Library Media Connection, 20-23. http://www.lucysantosgreen.com/uploads/6/8/3/3/6833178/school_librarians_and_music_educators_a_concert_for_student_success.pdf.