An evaluation of African and Afro-American music in selected elementary music textbook series and recommendations for supplemental song materials



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The purpose of this study was to determine both the quantity and manner of presentation of African and Afro-American music appearing in the elementary music textbook series of five major publishers, grades two and five, and provide additional song materials representative of African and Afro-American culture, which enrich traditional elementary music textbook series. The assessment portion of the study compared the songs of African and Afro- American culture with songs from other cultures. The comparison was based on number of songs, annotations, acknowledgment of origins, foreign language, pronunciation cues, translations, and placement of any additional information in the student and/or teacher editions. The results show that though there are spirituals, "blues" or jazz tunes, and work songs to represent the Afro-American culture in the school music textbooks, these songs were seldom identified as Afro-American. Furthermore, songs representing both the African and Afro- American cultures usually did not have annotations or pronunciation cues, nor were they closely related to childhood, experiences. The analyses also disclosed a dearth of African and Afro-American songs because there were many instances of duplication of songs in two or more series of textbooks. Finally, the annotations and other information relating to African and Afro-American folk songs appeared, primarily, in the teacher rather than the student edition. The same information provided for folk songs of other cultures was often found in both the student and teacher editions. Given the great wealth of African and Afro- American folk songs in existence, it seems appropriate to make these songs available to elementary school children. Therefore, singing-games, recreational songs, parables, and lullabies of the African and Afro-American cultures, which will enrich traditional textual material, are included in this study. Many of these songs were collected from taped interviews. The collected materials are presented in full music-settings with annotations and alternative learning activities. The settings include chord symbols, alternate stanzas, rhythmic movement activities, and pronunciation cues. .These offerings, properly identified, further substantiate the contributions of these two cultures and provide an expanded resource of music from the African and Afro-American cultures that is appropriate for elementary general music classes.



School music--Instruction and study--United States, Songs, African--History and criticism, African Americans--Music--History and criticism