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I'm planning an American Geography course for 5th grade. I would like to include music but I'm very ignorant about music. I just have vague ideas about what music comes from what parts of the country, e.g. jazz is from New Orleans (right?). 

I see many books on Amazon about music history but they look more detailed than what I am looking for. 

I want to listen to the folks songs that come from the region and introduce well-known composers. Probably musicals too. 

Does anyone have recommendations for resources? I'd like sources for the music and a book about the music and the composers. 

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What a fun topic!!! I'm just thinking here... 

Are you going to be studying by state or region? I think you might find it straightforward to google the state name and musicians and see what happens. I have all kinds of ideas coming to mind right now. Some would be very easy. 

You might not try to do *every* state. What you might do instead is like one a *month* maybe, kind of hitting a range of times and areas of the country.

-big band (CA and NY/New England?)

-Hobo Jim (Alaska)

-country (midwest, southern)

-musicals (all over, can hit places like OK, NY, whatever)

I don't know, to me music starts off regional and grows. So country music is popular lots of places, etc. Jazz is fine but will most kids be into it? LOL I'm not into it. Clearly I have a bad attitude on that, lol. Like if you google music of the Civil War, I'm sure you're going to turn up stuff. And some will be songs people know today. Some of the underground railroad songs are carried on. You have songs of the Vietnam era. Cowboy songs. Some of these things have picture books. 

I think do whatever you want. Music education is kind of a forever thing, lol. I've been watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies with my ds. So like Big Band, you could watch a movie together. There are lots of *movies* of music history. There's a cute one with James Cagney and another about Al Jolson. To me that puts the music in some context, rather than just turning it into do you like this, kwim? 

 

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I was looking for a top 10 musicals list for you. They probably need to be edited for a 10 year old, lol. But of ones I'm seeing on lists, you could consider

-Sound of Music--They came to the US, so you can study where they lived!!

-Oklahoma--obviously, lol

-Seven Brides for Seven Brothers--Find an excuse, pick the place. It's wonderful.

-Unsinkable Molly Brown--slice of life where she starts, fascinating, and an awesome musical with the wonderful debbie reynolds

-Singing in the Rain -Debbie Reynolds, a must

-On the Town--set in New York, so essential.

-The Harvey Girls--Judy Garland, girl goes out west to marry a correspondent. You'll love it.

-Meet Me in St. Louis--ok, so I'm not a huge fan. It's ok. It's worth watching, but I'm just not a huge fan. Judy Garland had a bad attitude, didn't want to be there, and it shows. But everyone else is delightful, the music great, the history and setting spot on for you.

**more edgy*

Guys and Dolls-LOVE this, but has heady themes. 

Les Mis--Again, she'll love this, but hard themes, pick the right time

West Side Story--more heavy themes, a riff on Romeo and Juliet

So I think you can have fun with it. It's easy to get dulcimer music for New England, cowboy songs, etc. Nuts, you can get movies with Roy Rogers where he sings his songs, lol. And some of the music of the regions doesn't have words. https://www.amazon.com/Wild-West-Essential-Western-Collection/dp/B00000K2DU  This will give you a lot of ideas, because it is picking music from movies about the west. The music in How the West Was Won is particularly fitting, also Sounder.

Edited by PeterPan
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21 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I was looking for a top 10 musicals list for you. They probably need to be edited for a 10 year old, lol. But of ones I'm seeing on lists, you could consider

-Sound of Music--They came to the US, so you can study where they lived!!

-Oklahoma--obviously, lol

-Seven Brides for Seven Brothers--Find an excuse, pick the place. It's wonderful.

-Unsinkable Molly Brown--slice of life where she starts, fascinating, and an awesome musical with the wonderful debbie reynolds

-Singing in the Rain -Debbie Reynolds, a must

-On the Town--set in New York, so essential.

-The Harvey Girls--Judy Garland, girl goes out west to marry a correspondent. You'll love it.

-Meet Me in St. Louis--ok, so I'm not a huge fan. It's ok. It's worth watching, but I'm just not a huge fan. Judy Garland had a bad attitude, didn't want to be there, and it shows. But everyone else is delightful, the music great, the history and setting spot on for you.

**more edgy*

Guys and Dolls-LOVE this, but has heady themes. 

Les Mis--Again, she'll love this, but hard themes, pick the right time

West Side Story--more heavy themes, a riff on Romeo and Juliet

So I think you can have fun with it. It's easy to get dulcimer music for New England, cowboy songs, etc. Nuts, you can get movies with Roy Rogers where he sings his songs, lol. And some of the music of the regions doesn't have words. https://www.amazon.com/Wild-West-Essential-Western-Collection/dp/B00000K2DU  This will give you a lot of ideas, because it is picking music from movies about the west. The music in How the West Was Won is particularly fitting, also Sounder.

Thanks. We're going to study regions instead specific states. We'll study the big states that had important things that happened there and lump together smaller states. There isn't time to study each of the 50 states in detail. 

I haven't seen the Harvey Girls in years. I remember there is a song about Ohio and Chillicothe. 

I've already mentioned On the Town to DD as an aside for how to you know uptown from downtown in NYC. I used to live and I would always think to myself "the Bronx is up and the Battery's down" when I was trying to figure out uptown versus downtown. 

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5 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I'm planning an American Geography course for 5th grade. I would like to include music but I'm very ignorant about music. I just have vague ideas about what music comes from what parts of the country, e.g. jazz is from New Orleans (right?). 

I see many books on Amazon about music history but they look more detailed than what I am looking for. 

I want to listen to the folks songs that come from the region and introduce well-known composers. Probably musicals too. 

Does anyone have recommendations for resources? I'd like sources for the music and a book about the music and the composers. 

Alan Lomax was an ethno-musicologist who spent decades traveling around the US recording folk songs -- he recorded Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, and lots of others who never became famous but who were part of a broader folk tradition.  I think he also published books about the music. 

But it might be more fun to listen to the recordings than to read about them. Honestly, even trawling through YouTube you can find a ton of old recordings, some on video. Maybe just see what's out there for each region and then do enough research so that you can introduce it a little bit? Like, look at the cultural influences on each region, the kinds of instruments used, the subjects people sing about, etc? Wow, this is such a cool subject that you're doing!

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Smithsonian Folkways put out a collection of folk songs in honor of the anniversary of the Grateful Dead's 50th anniversary. It's a cool playlist because it has the original (or at least, an early) version of songs which were later covered and popularized by the Grateful Dead: https://folkways.si.edu/roots-of-the-grateful-dead/music/playlist/smithsonian

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For older (i.e. mostly 19th century) folk songs, we used the Wee Sing America collection.

For musicals, you might watch movie musicals -- things like:
- 1942 - Yankee Doodle Dandy -- life story of George M. Cohen, and his songs (late 19th/early 20th century)
- 1944 - Meet Me in St. Louis -- set in St. Louis at the turn of the century 1899/1900
- 1952 - Singin' in the Rain -- set in Hollywood 1929, when films went from silent to talkies
- 1961 - West Side Story -- set in New York

Also, check out this past thread for movies to go along with your American Geography/History:
"I'm looking for movies to supplement Sonlight's Core D Intro to American History"
Favorite American History DVDs? (for ages 10-14)
Movies/documentaries on Native Americans (US History)
Documentaries/movies and biographies for 20th Century World History (US and World)
Movie suggestions for 1890-1913 time period (US and World)

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I am in the middle of trying to do something similar...using American History and adding in musicians/composers and artists/their works into the chronology. Hadn’t really thought about musicals, but that’s a great idea.

I love the idea of a book (with a page or two about the person) and a CD to listen to the music all wrapped up into one item I could purchase. The above suggestions give me a few ideas of creating this myself, so I appreciate the recommendations.

Edited by cougarmom4
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We really enjoyed Music: Investigate the Evolution of American Sound by Donna Latham.

It's not really geographical, but it had great links to listen to and watch different clips of different genres of music and everybody from the 2nd grader up to the senior enjoyed it.

It has science experiments too, but we skipped those. 

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