- Children’s Music Network: https://childrensmusic.org/
Their mission statement states: “The Children’s Music Network celebrates the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas and creating community.” Its website provides songs on peace, multi-cultural and environmental themes. You can listen to songs in each category; often the words are provided and CDs listed that contain a song you may be interested in sharing with your class. There are articles to read and videos to watch.
- Peoples Music Network: https://peoplesmusic.org/
The People’s Music Network describes itself as “a diverse community of singers, artists, activists and allies that cultivates music and cultural work as catalysts for a just and peaceful world.” It features songs on many topics that could be integrated into varied middle school and high school curricula. You will also find links to their concerts and workshops featured on YouTube and information on musical gatherings they have around the country.
- Scott, John Anthony and Scott, John Wardlaw, Ballad of America, A History of the United States through Folksong, 3rd edition, Folksong in the Classroom, Inc., 2003. This book is an excellent source of songs from the colonial period through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. It provides the music, lyrics and the meaning of each song within a particular historical period. Including songs in the study of history can heighten student interest in any social studies program and bring an emotional component that can help to humanize our ancestors.
- Blood, Peter and Patterson, Annie, Rise Up Singing, The Group Singing Songbook, Larger Print Leaders Edition, A Sing Out!, Hal Leonard, 2005. This amazing book provides words, chords and sources to 1,200 songs in many categories including friendship, hope, rounds, unity, work, peace, men, women and humor. Any teacher can find appropriate songs here for any grade level. An introduction by folk icon Pete Seeger and a section called “How to Use This Book” can inspire anyone, even those who think they can’t sing, to give it a try.
If you visit https://singout.org/ you will find music videos on many topics, recommended songs/singers/CDs, extensive archives of folk songs in alphabetical order, blogs, publications, and a history of their 70+ years of existence. Their mission statement is: “to preserve and support the cultural diversity and heritage of all traditions and contemporary folk music, and to encourage making folk music a part of everyday life.”
5. National Children’s Folksong Repository: https://edu-cyberpg.com/NCFR/
This website says, “If you are interested in Arts Education, Children’s Health and Society, the National Children’s Folksong Repository is a public folklore project that will preserve what is left of our oral culture. Children in the United States aren’t singing the songs of their heritage, an omission that puts the nation in jeopardy of losing a longstanding and rich part of its identity.”
This website encourages children to send in their playground songs, chants and games to preserve oral history that is becoming lost due to reliance on technology. This website has links to see and hear children’s outdoor culture, and teaches clapping songs, chants and games that teachers can teach their pupils.
- Carawan, Guy and Candie, eds., Sing for Freedom, The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs, New South Books, 2007. There is a companion CD of live field recordings of songs sung and excerpts of speeches made in the midst of rallies, demonstrations and marches. For any class studying the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s, this book and CD capture the spirit, powerful singing and commitment of the participants to an end to segregation and inequality. Students who learn some of these songs are invariably moved by them. When I would sing such songs with my elementary school students, accompanying our singing with my guitar, they would say things like “I dig that freedom song, that ‘Amen’ song. I cannot stop singing it all day.” “I had fun singing the songs.” “I love the song ‘I woke up This Morning with My Mind on Freedom.’“ One child was so impressed with information on this period and the songs that he wrote me a note that ended “You’ve put a lot of sense into some of our heads.” To see how these songs were explored in my alternative high school class with a singer from that period, see Matt Jones, Inspiring Students with an Invited Speaker on my website.
- Examples of other CDs to consider:
Linking Up: Music and Movement in the Peaceable Classroom for Ages 3 – 9 Years by Sarah Pirtle is a CD of 46 songs and a teacher’s guide with activities related to each song. Ms. Pirtle is a teacher, singer and songwriter who believes in the power of music to promote peaceful conflict resolution. Children not only sing, clap and stamp their feet, but also create new movements, dances and new verses. These songs will inspire singing teachers to sing more and inhibited teachers to sing anyway.
Walk a Mile and Swingin’ in the Key of L are 2 CDs by Vitamin L, a chorus of children and adults who sing songs that stress how to improve interpersonal relationships. Many of the songs have a rock beat and are backed up by a band. Songs include: “Here’s to the Hero” (We all can be heroes – which my high school class enjoyed); “So Much to Share” (Older people deserve our respect and we can learn from them).
Here is the chorus to their inspiring song “Walk a Mile”: “I want to walk a mile in your shoes…, I want to know what you think and what you feel, So I really want to walk a mile in your shoes.” A student teacher in a 4th-grade told me that some children in her class were not getting along. I showed up soon after and began teaching her students this song. One boy yelled out “I’m not singing” and also said loudly to another boy, “You are poison.” I calmly stated, “That comment is not acceptable, and you don’t have to sing.” I quickly went back to teaching the song. The rest of the class enjoyed the song and the words. When the disruptive boy saw that everyone else was ignoring him and having a good time, he slowly began to sing too.
When other 4th-grade teachers heard about this song, they taught it to their classes, and it became the theme song of this grade level. I left the CD for them to use which made this task easier.
- Koch, Lynn Arthur, “Singing Folk Songs in the Classroom for the Musically-Challenged,” February 2017: 5-page article online that provides helpful tips which gives strategies for teaching songs – pointing out that no accompaniment is needed and exploring why.