Music in Our Schools Month

The National Association for Music Education was created to acknowledge that music is an Essential Part of Our Students' Educational Experience

By Greg Harrison

Teacher playing guitar with students

During the past two years, I've thoroughly enjoyed writing educational articles for Lesson Planet. However, this article will hold an extra-special meaning for me because it is about honoring music in our schools. I was lucky enough to grow up in an era when music was considered to be an essential part of every student's educational experience. As a 4th grader, I was strongly-encouraged by my teacher to join the school chorus. I also learned how to play the trumpet so I could join the school band.

Since those days, I've performed in many bands as a guitarist, banjoist, percussionist, and as a singer/songwriter. As an elementary school teacher, I was able to play the role of "musical instigator" for my students. As a father, I've been thrilled to share my love for music with my daughter. It makes me proud to watch her blossom into an incredible actress, singer, and performer. I will never forget that my involvement in music started in elementary school because of a wonderful teacher who encouraged me to give it a try.

Bringing Music into Your School

For many years, the month of March has been designated as "Music in Our Schools Month." Let's assume you don't have any kind of music program in your school. How in the world can you provide your students with some kind of a music program? Here are some of the methods that worked for me.

  • If you play an instrument, have it in your classroom and play for your students. There's nothing like having a song at the ready to fill in those last 5 or 6 minutes before recess if your lesson has ended early, or to finish the day on a high note! Plus, playing some quiet instrumental music can serve as a calming influence for a class that's in an agitated state.
  • If you like to sing, by all means - sing with your students! You can easily bring in "karaoke-style" recordings and have sing-alongs in class.
  • At your Back to School Night, make part of your presentation a plea for music in your classroom. You'll be surprised by the number of parents who are musicians, and would be willing to come in once a week to do music with your students.
  • Make inquiries in your community about organizations that have travelling musical programs that are tailor-made for schools. Quite often, these programs are offered free of charge, or for a very reasonable fee.
  • Arrange field trips to musical performances for your students to attend.

National Association for Music Education

Speaking of the National Association for Music Education, here are three links from their website which will give you a lot of information about the upcoming Music in Our Schools Month, as well as important information on the amazing "World's Largest Concert" event which is coming up on March 8th, 2012. The links are:

Music in Our Schools Month Information
The World's Largest Concert
World's Largest Concert Music

Music Lesson Plans from Our Site:

Music - Reading Basic Music Notes

It's no secret that musical notation is a language that is extremely beneficial for students to learn. This clever lesson teaches very young students the basics of reading and understanding eighth, quarter, half, whole notes, and rests. The song "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is used as the foundation of the lesson. Students clap along with the song, and then are taught how to associate the musical notation with their clapping pattern.

A Multi-disciplinary Lesson on Music Around the World

I love the idea behind this easy-to-implement music lesson designed for upper-elementary students. The teacher plays a song for the class that represents his/her culture, and explains what kind of music it is and where it came from. Then, students are assigned a task: They must come up with a piece of recorded music that represents their family culture to play for the class. A bulletin board is created that has a map of the world, and each student prints out a flag of the country their music represents which is pinned to the board. It is a wonderful, multi-disciplinary lesson.

Music Theories

Let's face it, playing an instrument isn't for everyone. However, the ability to appreciate music and have it enrich one's life is possible for everyone! This lesson, designed for middle school to high school students, has them explore the origins of hip-hop music as a springboard for writing reviews and researching a variety of genres of music. Students select a favorite artist or musical group as the subject for their original music review.

Music in Words

The creative process that goes along with composing music and writing songs is fascinating. This lesson, designed for high school students, begins with a piece of classical music then moves into the creative process. Each student is assigned the task of creating an original musical composition, song, or poem. This lesson could serve to awaken the creative spirit that's been lying dormant inside many students.