Top of page

Bringing Music and Primary Sources Together: A Teaching with Primary Sources Round Up

Share this post:

This is a guest post from Johnathan Abreu of the Library of Congress.

Music Festival Poster, 1938

Popular songs often carry political or social messages or commentary on the events of the day. Music offers teachers a lens to explore the culture of a time and to help students understand issues of importance during that period in history. The Library of Congress archives a vast repository of sheet music and song sheets, and many of these rich primary sources are available online. Several Teaching with the Library of Congress blog entries point to music-related primary sources and ways to use them with students.

In “The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Primary Source Starter,” Stephen Wesson takes a look at this popular Civil War-era song with antebellum roots. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” has been appropriated and parodied by many different groups. Learn about the historical context behind the song and check out the suggestions for teachers in this great resource for teachers studying the Civil War.

In “Teaching Language Arts through Music: Historic Sheet Music and Song Sheets,” Stacie Moats provides excellent strategies for using sheet music to convey language arts concepts. Examples are taken from sheet music collections available online from the Library of Congress web site. There are many different ideas for educators wanting to incorporate materials from the Library’s sheet music collections.

A childrens’ rhythm band in a music class

Finally, in “Bringing Music and Primary Sources into Your School,” Danna Bell-Russel gives an overview of places to find music-related primary sources within the digitized collections of the Library of Congress and a number of ideas to include more music in classrooms.

Remember to take a look at the Teacher’s Guides on Analyzing Sheet Music and Song Sheets and Analyzing Sound Recordings for questions and activities to guide and deepen student thinking and analysis.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.