Several years ago, the NYSSMA Classroom Music Committee began working on a project that we hoped would become a valuable resource to classroom music teachers throughout the state. We realized quickly that what seemed to be a rather benign topic – specifically, a song list – in fact, could be met with much controversy. When you start asking the question “What songs should everyone know?”, you open quite a can of worms!
We began the process by collecting songs. We made lists of songs we taught our students, and songs we had learned growing up. We looked at similar lists that had been created in the past. We asked conference attendees to name songs that should appear on the list and we ranked them in order of frequency. We alphabetized them, we categorized them, we questioned them, and we argued about them. Should the list be condensed, or expanded? How many songs is too many, or too few? Finally, we asked ourselves the most important question: what is the ultimate purpose of this song list? The answer to that question helped us to find focus and move forward in our efforts to create something useful and thoughtful.
The name of our project became “NY Sings! A Song List For and By New Yorkers”. It is not an all-inclusive list of songs every child should know. Instead, it is a database of songs that we believe are worthy of including in your curriculum. Included in this database are elements that we hope will help to make this a valuable lesson-planning resource, including genre, song origin, tonality, meter, and harmonic structure. For the many music educators in New York State are teaching in job situations that may be outside of their comfort zones, we hope this will be a good starting point for curriculum development.
In future issues of the School Music News, we will be featuring lesson plans for primary, elementary and intermediate levels that focus on one or more of the songs from the list. Our committee hopes that these lessons will inspire you to use the song database as a springboard for your own lesson planning. We also invite you to submit your own lesson plans using songs from the list, for inclusion in future issues.
I would like to take a moment to thank the current and past members of the Classroom Music Committee who contributed to this project: Susan Avery, Ruth Briedenbach, Donna Basile, David Chidsey, Anthony Femino, Jeanne Gray, Kimberly Kane, Shana Kohler, Dr. Edward Marschilok, Kerry Mero, Charles Palella, Melissa Reed, Kathy Wakeman, Sylvia Walker, and Marvin Zehr. We look forward to creating additional resources for NYS classroom music teachers!
To download the song list, click here:
- NY Sings! A Song List For and By New Yorkers (PDF – 254 KB)