Elementary School Music

Books for Music Teachers

Posted in Books for Teachers, Where-ever by P. Conrad on February 13, 2011

The following lists are not at all complete. Most of the following titles are either song collections or texts written for teachers of music. In addition there are trade books that illustrate a traditional song.

Check the on-line catalogs of the NY Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library for availability of these books and others. Typical call numbers for Music Education begin with 372. or 780.

To purchase books, see the mail order companies listed at the bottom of the Purchasing for Schools page. In many cases, clean used copies of texts can be found at very low prices on-line by checking at amazon or another online bookseller.

Song Collections:

Bradford, Louise Larkins. Sing It Yourself: 220 Pentatonic American Folk Songs (Alfred Publ., 1978) ISBN: 0882840622.

Choksy, L. & Brummit, D. 120 Singing Games and Dances for Elementary Schools (Prentice-Hall, 1987) ISBN: 013635038001.

Locke, Eleanor G. Sail Away (Boosey & Hawkes, 1988).

Johnson, Richard. Folk Songs North America Sings (1984), dist. by Hal Leonard.

Jones, Bessie and Bess Lomax Hawes. Step it Down (Univ. of Georgia Press, 1987).

Rao, Doreen. We Will Sing (Boosey & Hawkes, 1993).

Kenney, Maureen. Circle Round the Zero (MMB, 1975) ISBN: 0918812089

Erdei, P. & Komlos, K. 150 American Folk Songs to Sing, Read, and Play (9th printing, (Boosey & Hawkes, 1989) ISBN: 0913932043.

Trinka, J. (1996). The Little Black Bull and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games, and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 4 (CD and book), Folk Music Works. ISBN: 1-888895-41-1.

_______. (1989). John, the Rabbit and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games, and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 3 (CD and book). Folk Music Works.

_______. (1988). Bought Me a Cat and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 2 (CD and Book). Folk Music Works.

_______. (1987). My Little Rooster and Other Folk Songs, Singing Games, and Play Parties for Kids of All Ages, Vol. 1 (CD and Book). Folk Music Works. (ISBN for the 4-volume set is 1-888895-04-7.)

Some Books About Music Teaching:

Choksy, Lois. The Kodály Method I and II (3rd edition, Prentice-Hall,1999).

_______. Teaching Music Effectively in the Elementary School (Prentice Hall, 1991). ISBN 0138927049

Choksy, Lois, Robert M. Abramson, Avon E. Gillespie, and David Woods, Teaching Music in the Twentieth Century (Prentice Hall, 1986). An overview of Orff, Kodály, and Dalcroze.

Eisen, Ann. & Robertson, Lamar. An American Methodology. (Sneaky Snake Pub.,1996) by two Louisiana-based Kodály master teachers.

Forrai, K. Music in Preschool, 2nd edition, translated and adapted by Jean Sinor. (Brisbane: James Ferguson,1998). ISBN: 0958629706.

Frazee, Jane. Discovering Orff (Schott, 1987)

Houlahan, Michael. & Tacka, Phillip. Sound Thinking: Developing Musical Literacy, Vol. I and II. (Boosey and Hawkes, 1995) ISBN: 0913932531, a teacher’s guide for Kodály-based instruction.

Phillips, Ken. Teaching Kids to Sing (Wadsworth, 1996). ISBN 0028717953. Indispensable.

Rozmajzl, Michon, and Boyer, Rene C. Music Fundamentals, Methods, and Materials for the Elementary Classroom Teacher (with audio CD), 4th edition, Allyn & Bacon, 2005) ISBN: 0205449646.

Rozmajzl, Michon, and Castleberry, Rosalie. Rhythm and Melody Concepts: A Sequential Approach for Children (Pencil Point Press, 1995) ISBN: 1881641139.

Shehan-Campbell, Patricia, Carol Scott-Kassner. Music In Childhood, 2nd (Schirmer, 2001).

Steen, Arvida, Exploring Orff, (Schott, 1992)

Swears, Linda. Teaching the Elementary School Chorus (Parker Publ., 1985) ISBN 0138925143

Valerio, Wendy, H., Alison M. Reynolds, Beth M. Bolton, Cynthia C. Taggart, and Edwin E. Gordon. Music Play. (GIA Publications, 1998) Provides a basic understanding of Edwin Gordon’s ideas.

Weikart, Phyllis. Teaching Movement and Dance: A Sequential Approach to Rhythmic Understanding. (5th ed., High Scope, 2003) ISBN 1573791326

Wiggins, Jackie. Teaching for Musical Understanding. (McGraw-Hill, 2001).

Trade Books:

Basal Series (textbooks):
Major textbook publishers have their own graded textbook series for music education, and some teachers find these very useful. Each of the following series has a publisher’s website packed with learning materials, and teachers resources that anyone can access. Click on the title of any of the series listed below, to visit those sites.

Spotlight on Music (Macmillan, 2005).

Share the Music (Macmillan, 2003).

Making Music (Silver Burdett Ginn) SBG’s website is especially rich in resources and links of value for music teachers.


Teaching for Musical Understanding

Posted in Books for Teachers by P. Conrad on January 16, 2010

This is the second edition  of a 2001 academic book that emphasizes the constructivist approach to teaching — meaning the teacher steps out of the center of the classroom to create more opportunities for discovery by the students. This is an essential but immensely tricky aspect to teaching music with young students.

Jackie Wiggins is a professor at Oakland University and author of Teaching for Musical Understanding which is just out in its second edition from McGraw-Hill. The book is discussed favorably on the Music Work blog. (Unfortunately, it’s hard to find in city libraries and few used copies are available at amazon.)

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Research in Music Education

Posted in Readings & Research by P. Conrad on November 10, 2009


  • Data-driven research in music education is carried out largely by people working at the university level. Much valuable work is published in scholarly journals that need to be read in the periodicals room of a library.
  • MENC publishes various journals that are available to that organization’s members either online or in print, including: Music Educators Journal, Teaching Music, General Music Today, and the Journal of Music Teacher Education. Another, the Journal of Research in Music Education is available at an extra cost.

Many music education research articles found on arts education websites fall into the category of arts advocacy: studies showing how a music-rich education has a beneficial effect on other areas of children’s learning and development, such as literacy acquisition or logical-spatial reasoning. These are rewarding to read, and deserve wider circulation, but not directly relevant to the activity of teaching music.

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Children’s Songs and Games from Ecuador, Mexico, and Puerto Rico

Posted in Repertoire, Where-ever by P. Conrad on November 8, 2009

childrens songs and gamesHere’s a 1970 Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage CD (or download) that collects field recordings of children in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Ecuador playing and singing various games and songs. Some of the material will be familiar.

The music was collected and annotated by the late ethnomusicologist Henrietta Yurchenko, a “song-catcher,” scholar, and author of the biography Woody Guthrie: A Mighty Hard Road.

The Folkways collection costs $17 on CD or cassette but just $9 as a download. Click on the cover art for more information.

Summaries of Research Articles in Early Childhood Music Education

Posted in Readings & Research by P. Conrad on April 22, 2009

What real research looks at: following are some selected summaries of research that’s been published in the Journal of Research on Music Education or available as doctoral dissertations from University Microfilms. (more…)

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From Heartbeat to Steady Beat

Posted in Readings & Research by P. Conrad on April 18, 2009

From Heartbeat to Steady Beat is a summary of research in early childhood music education provided on-line at the MENC website.

It includes articles in such categories as Music & the Unborn Child, Music & the Infant, Music & Young Children, and offers a list of search terms for seeking further studies or looking for specific subjects within the studies listed in the summary. Most of the studies are from the 1980s and 1990s.

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Children’s Pitch Matching, Vocal Range, and Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Posted in Readings & Research by P. Conrad on February 27, 2009


From the Mar 22, 2000 issue of the Journal of Research in Childhood Education, this is a serious look at the topic, with suppporting data. There are additional resources on this topic in the bibliography.

Children’s Pitch Matching, Vocal Range, and Developmentally Appropriate Practice

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Family Involvement in Childrens’ Music Learning

Posted in Readings & Research by P. Conrad on December 6, 2006

Teachers Network Leadership Institute is “a nationwide, non-profit education organization that identifies and connects innovative teachers exemplifying professionalism and creativity within public school systems.”

Recently, Rebecca Ponka, who taught in District 15 in Brooklyn, completed an action research project entitled Connecting Generations in Music Education that’s available on the TN website.

Her aim was to study the effect of parental involvement on children’s music learning. The short summary is interesting in itself, and a complete text of her report is available as a PDF file.

Ponka’s paper is a vivid example of a research done by a teacher working fulltime in a public elementary school. She includes some sensible recommendations, such as the value of providing families with examples and suggestions on how to actively support their child’s music education at home.

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Teaching Music in the Urban Classroom

Posted in Books for Teachers by P. Conrad on November 11, 2006

Teaching Music in the Urban Classroom, Volume 1: A Guide to Survival, Success, and Reform
Edited by Carol Frierson-Campbell, Foreword by Willie L. Hill, Jr. Published by Rowman & Littlefield and MENC (ISBN 1-57886-461-5)

This two-volume text is a collection of pieces by various music teachers, school administrators, researchers, and policy writers, meant to establish a dialogue leading to reform in urban music education.

Frierson-Campbell is an assistant professor of music at William Paterson University, in Wayne, New Jersey, and teaches courses in music education and graduate research and coordinates the Arts in Urban Schools outreach project.
Recommended by David Ephross, who teaches at P.S. 304 in Brooklyn.
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Two Articles by John Feierabend

Posted in Readings & Research by P. Conrad on May 22, 2006

drjohnhandBeyond the Music Class: Expanding the Musical Influence of the Elementary School

(describes a school program that seeks to extend music learning out of the classroom, to involve the wider school community, including students’ families.)

Developing Music Literacy: An Aural Approach for an Aural Art

(describes a Kodaly-based approach to teaching music literacy to younger students.)

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