A Song In Your Step...Playing Music Into Your Classroom.
For the past couple of years I have been playing music in my room as students enter class. I try and find music that matches or fit the Learning Objective that day, or is from the time period we are currently studying.
I sometimes get those random comments from students who don't appreciate my musical choice that day, but I do once an awhile get music requests. If their request matches what we are talking about, I will sometimes go ahead and play the song for them. It is pretty amazing how the mood of the class changes with this little bit of music as students enter. If the music is reflective or somber, students will typically enter the same. If the music is more high energy, student's energy level also increases.
I tell students that "America's Music is a glimpse into its soul." I don't know if I heard that someplace, or I just made it up but I feel it's pretty true. I have found music is a great way to help start discussions on how Americans are feeling about a topic or era, their attitudes, or American concerns. It makes for a great way to start a topic: Why do you think Mr. Mosier picked this song today? What do you think we might be talking about today? etc.. For some of my students music is a motivator to get to my room earlier so they can listen to the music that is being played that day.
I have gotten most of my music from our textbook resources CD and some from free Website resources. I always follow copyright, so I don't download illegal music. If I can't find something I typically buy it from iTunes or look for it on Spotify.
Here are some places for free music:Free Music Archive: A variety of music that is free to use under Creative Commons.
Old Radio World: Not really music, but some popular radio shows from the 1930's & 40's to get a glimpse of pop culture.
Library of Congress- National Jukebox: Recordings that are in the public domain.
Manufacturing Memory: American Popular Music in the 1930's: A good sampling of music from the 1930's.
Music in Slave Life- PBS: Slavery and the Making of America: This is a great resource in general on slave life in America, but the music can also be a place for students to hear the type of music slaves sang. I usually talk about that this music becomes the foundation for Jazz, Rock & Roll, and R&B.
Civil War Songs from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (These are as free iTunes downloads) - Soldiers' Songs (Civil War Songs): The Battle Cry of Freedom , Goober Peas , Just Before The Battle Mother , Tenting on the Old Campground , Aura Lee , When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Music I purchased in iTunes or bought the CD because it works well in my lessons:
I probably don't want to add up the music I've bought the past several of years. At least it's good music and diversifies my iTunes Library some.
- Rawhide by Frankie Lane (Good on days we talk about Cowboys in the American West)
- Main Title from How the West Was Won (Good song for our introduction to Westward Expansion and various groups who settle west)
- The Buffalo Hunt (Film Version) by John Barry Dances with Wolves Soundtrack (Good song on days we talk about culture of the tribes on the Great Plaines)
- Wounded Knee (Main Title) by George S. Clinton Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee Soundtrack (Song on day we talk about the impact of Wounded Knee and the Native American Experience during Westward Expansion)
The Civil War
(All of these are good songs to play on various days in our unit on the Civil War. I also play a lot of songs from the Gilder Lehrman Institute from the links above.)
- Nine to Five by Dolly Parton (Great song when talking about Working Conditions and Labor)
- Working in the Coal Mine by Lee Dorsey (Great song when talking about Working Conditions and Labor)
- It's The Hard-Knock Life Original Broadway Cast Annie(Like to use this song when we talk about child labor)
- Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford (Great song when talking about Working Conditions and Labor)
World War I
- Over There by Rob Carriker (Use this when we talk about America's involvement in WWI)
- Keep Your Head Down Fritzie Boy by American Quartet (Great song on our Trench Warfare day)
1920's & 30's
World War II
- Various songs from The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry. Always try and have a 50's Music Day.
- Star Spangled Baner by Jimi Hendrix (One of the songs we play when we talk about Vietnam Protests)
- Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival (One of the songs we play when we talk about Vietnam Protests)
- Turn!Turn!Turn! by the Byrds (One of the songs we play when we talk about Vietnam Protests)
- Wind of Change by Scorpian (A song we use on our final day of the Cold War unit when we talk about the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union)