Songs, Games, and Dances

Primary sources are the raw materials of history: The eyewitness accounts, the photographs, the correspondences. Primary sources empower students to think analytically about the world around them using evidence-based strategies. The same can be true for musical primary sources!

Folk music is an active, dynamic source of primary sources as pieces are re-interpreted through various individuals' unique perspectives. Teaching folk music through primary sources enables students to think analytically about music, consider the perspectives of others more empathetically, exposes them to a more diverse body of musical traditions, and inspires them to make their own creative contributions to their cultural communities.

Relevant Resources

The National Association for Music Education offers Teaching with Primary Sources curriculum units for chorus, general music, orchestra, and band across grade level. This project, made possible through a Library of Congress grant, embeds primary-source materials within inquiry-based lessons aligned to the Core Arts Standards. For Music In Our Schools Month 2019, NAfME published an inspiring set of lesson plans that make great use of Library of Congress primary sources.

The Association for Cultural Equity provides the recordings of folklorist Alan Lomax, along with photographs, lesson plans, and more.

The Kodaly Center's American Folk Song Collection offers a database of folk song transcriptions. Recordings from the Library of Congress are denoted, and embedded audio files are often provided.