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Developing Literacy Through Music

lgleysteen's picture

This week I decided to write my post on music as a means of developing literacy because I will be bringing my Ukulele to Ghana.  I am still unsure of how to use my instrument as an educational tool.  I want to use it to teach but I still have not completely figured it out.  At the very least I can use it as a tool to show how fun and easy learning an instrument can be.  I would like to use my ukulele to help improve literacy through song but I would also be happy if my ukulele can be music education on its own.  I think it is incredibly important for kids to learn instruments and I wish that I had started at a younger age.   That being said, I wish I had more time and knowledge to use my instrument as a teaching tool.  There are so many ways that music can be beneficial in teaching languages.  First of all, almost everyone loves music, there is so much appeal in everything that has a tune.  Little kids are always humming and trying to whistle.  They view it as a fun thing instead of an educational thing.  I remember when I was little, I always liked it when people sang to me.  I liked it when my teachers sang my class songs, I also liked learning educational songs (such as songs about the names of 50 states), and my parents even sing to me before I went to bed.  When I was little I had so many different people singing so many different songs that I became really interested in learning how to do more with them and actually learn an instrument.  After focusing so hard on the chords of songs, the words became the easy part.  It was so incredibly easy to learn lyrics to songs when I already had the tune imprinted in my mind from learning the harmonies and melodies of the songs.   All of this gave me the opinion that instruments were a celebration of sound and lyrics were a celebration of language.  There is so much more involved in learning the lyrics of a song than just memorizing arbitrary lines.  Memorizing lyrics means that one has to learn the emotions that go behind what is being said, as well as what points that it is necessary to place an emphasis on words.  Songs tell narratives in an engaging  way that children understand.  I also believe there are ways to make musical education particularly effective.  I think that it is important for children to hear a variety of genres as well as being able to show their own individual taste.  I feel like in elementary school we always had the opportunity to show and tell, but I also like the idea of being able to listen and tell.  It would be cool if children could bring in songs and explain what is important about them.  I also love the idea of children being able to make their own instruments whether its drums out of trashcans or making rainmakers out of cardboard tubes and rice.  It teaches them that it is not necessary to spend money to create an instrument.   I also want to explore the idea of having kids listen to songs and reflect on them in the same way they would reflect on a painting or poem.  I was able to do this a few times in my language classes in high school, but never in my early education.  In Ghana I wish to explore at least one of these things.  I really want to make instruments with the kids and see what happens.


alesnick's picture

music curriculum? music as access?

In class today we talked about how important dance, music, and games were to the relationships we formed in Ghana.  I hope you can come to Friday's Ghanaian music workshop in CC 200, 2pm.

While your goals were not able to realized given time constraints on our trip, I wonder what you did see, think, and try in the music realm while we were in Dalun, and what you might want to develop.

Also, it's interesting that you link music strongly to childhood.  Could this be an entree to "Learning and Narrating Childhoods?"