Main Body

Chapter 12: Music Integration

Chapter Summary: This chapter introduces the reader to processes and vocabulary of music integration, including a general definition of arts integration, and strategies and examples for integrating music with other subject areas.

Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.

—Plato, Republic, Book III

Arts Integration, when done correctly, transforms both the art and the subject area into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. In short, Arts Integration can be magical, inspiring learning and setting off a spark in each child. Imagine the difference in a child’s learning experience if classroom teachers incorporated the arts into their lesson. From a teaching perspective, artistic experiences help teachers discover their students’ enthusiasm through a new medium. They also aid in creating positive and interesting lessons that fully engage the student. For the student, music not only strengthens emotional and cognitive development, but also allows a new outlet of expression, and a new means of learning through listening and making sound. The arts provide a platform through which teachers can tap into a child’s creativity and humanity while teaching content material. The arts give students an opportunity to express and explore material in a medium to which they might not otherwise have access.

Incorporating music is beneficial to both teacher and student as it strengthens the bond between them through a (hopefully) mutually satisfying aesthetic experience. Teaching and learning occurs between the art forms and any number of diverse subject areas.

I. What is Arts Integration?

Let’s begin with a commonly accepted definition of arts integration from the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge website along with a checklist to help guide the teacher in the creation of an integrated lesson.

Description: Description: rts Integration Definition

A definition of arts integration

Checklist for an Arts Integrated Lesson

Approach to Teaching

  • Are learning principles of Constructivism (actively built, experiential, evolving, collaborative, problem-solving, and reflective) evident in my lesson?


  • Are the students engaged in constructing and demonstrating understanding as opposed to just memorizing and reciting knowledge?

Art Form

  • Are the students constructing and demonstrating their understanding through an art form?

Creative Process

  • Are the students engaged in a process of creating something original as opposed to copying or parroting?
  • Will the students revise their products?


  • Does the art form connect to another part of the curriculum or a concern/need?
  • Is the connection mutually reinforcing?

Evolving Objectives

  • Are there objectives in both the art form and another part of the curriculum or a concern/need?
  • Have the objectives evolved since the last time the students engaged with this subject matter?

Defining Levels of Integration

Not all lessons that use the arts can be called “integrated.” Some lessons incorporate the arts, but do not incorporate the learning objectives and other criteria that fully integrate them, while others follow a deeper level of integration. Silverstein & Layne (2014) identify 3 categories of Arts Integration:

  1. Arts as Curriculum—presence of arts teachers in the school teaching art, music, etc. using the state standard goals for their own specific discipline.
  2. Arts-Enhanced Curriculum—using the arts as a device, strategy or “hook” to engage students or teach something else (i.e. using the alphabet song to teach the alphabet.) No explicit objectives in the art form are articulated. Does not require teacher training in the arts discipline.
  3. Arts-Integrated Curriculum—Students meet dual-objectives in both the art and the content area. Results in deep understanding about the art form. Teachers require professional development to learn about the arts standards.

There is nothing wrong about any of these three ways of using the arts, and sometimes it is quite appropriate to use one style over another for various curricular or other reasons. Although integration is a worthy goal, it is sometimes not feasible.

Using Music in Arts-As-Curriculum

Most schools still contain music and art teachers, who are valuable assets in providing input regarding art strategies, teaching materials, etc. This is definition of an arts-as-curriculum strategy, where the arts teacher teaches their separate material. Fully integrating the arts requires a time commitment and instructional expertise, but often there isn’t the time, resources, or incentive to fully learn or implement the entire process for a lesson. How might you utilize the music teacher in your school to enhance your lesson? What are some ways to work with the specialists to benefit the student’s learning experience?

Using Music as Arts-Enhancement

There are many things to be learned from arts-enhancement as well. Using the arts yourself to enhance your lesson provides opportunities for students to experience music during the school day in a non-content related way.

There are ample opportunities for children to experience music in their day, including singing, moving, clapping, or stomping that are not directly related to teaching content area but provide students an alternate form of expression, a chance to re-group and focus, for motivation, learn about proper group and individual expectations and behavior, and to make transitions between subjects and activities. How might you use music to “enhance” a science or language arts lesson? Vocabulary or poetry lesson?

Sample chart for Arts-Enhancement opportunities

  1. Organization
    • Activity: lining up, cleaning up
    • Aesthetic Purpose: motivation
  2. Transitions
    • Activity: changing from one activity to another
    • Aesthetic Purpose: change of mood, re-focus energy
  3. Rituals
    • Activity: Greetings/Hello, goodbye, holiday music
    • Aesthetic Purpose: Prepare students mentally, provides stability and repetition
  4. Interstitial
    • Activity: Short break between two subjects or activities
    • Aesthetic Purpose: Provide relaxation, moment of expression, and alternate uses for cognitive functioning

Sample Day that includes Music

  1. 9:10 Use music before the school day begins
    • Ritual: Set the mood/change the atmosphere in the room with sound
  2. 9:20 Students enter and settle in to the room
    • Ritual: “Good Morning,” and/or movement activity “Head Shoulders”
  3. 9:25 Morning Work, Attendance, Calendar
    • Organization: i.e. “If you’re ready for _____ clap your hands” (or stomp your feet, etc.)
  4. 10:00-10:40 Special (Music, Art, Physical Ed)
    • Transition: Focus for Math
  5. 10:45 Math Stations
    • Organization: Line up for Lunch
  6. 11:30 Lunch
    • Transition: Focus ready for reading
  7. 12:10-12:50 Reading/Literacy Stations
    • Interstitial: Break song/movement
  8. 12:50-1:30 Writing
    • Interstitial: Movement/song break
  9. 1:30-2:10 Social Studies/Science/Health
    • Transition: Movement activity/song
  10. 2:10-2:25 Snack/Play time
    • Organization: Focus: Line up for Library or Lab
  11. 2:25-3:05 Computer Lab or Library
    • Transition
  12. 3:10 Pickup and pack-up
    • Organization: “Clean up song”
  13. 3:15 Dismissal
    • Ritual: “Goodbye” song
Song Examples (see Chapter 11 for more examples from this list)

(Substitute any subject such as math, reading, physical education, art, instead of music, and any action instead of “stand on up” or “clap your hands.”)

If You’re Ready for Music

Janet Elder, in her article on “Brain Friendly Music in the Classroom” (n.d.), suggests the following reasons to incorporate music into the classroom:

Reasons for using music in the classroom can be divided into four groups:

  1. Music’s effect on the physical body and brain
  2. Music’s effect on the emotional body
  3. Music’s effect on the physical and learning environment
  4. Music’s effect on group coherence and intimacy

For example, as mentioned in Chapter 11, music’s beats per minute (b.p.m.) or tempo, has a direct impact on the human body.

Elder also goes on to suggest specific songs to use for different classroom situations, such as playing classical music during individual or group work or “Get Up Offa That Thing” by James Brown for stretch breaks. There are many, many different types of songs and places to use them when working with children, and the inclusion of music in the daily routine can improve transitions and the overall mood of a classroom.

Class Times When Music Is Appropriate

Class Activity

Musical qualities to look for in song selection

Song examples

As students enter class.

Select loose, upbeat, uplifting music, or music that pertains in some way to the course or topic that day. Songs with humor also start the class on the right foot.

“Star Wars,” “Summon the Heroes” and other John Williams’ Olympic music, “Walk Right In” (Rooftop Singers), “Thanks for Coming” and “Hello, Welcome to the Meeting” (“Laughable Lyrics” CD), and “The More We Get Together” (Raffi).

To welcome students back after a weekend or holiday break

“Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go!”, “The Flintstones” (“Yabba Dabba Do” TV theme, Aron Apping), “Monday, Monday” (Mamas and Papas), “Reveille” bugle call (“Authentic Sound Effects, Vol. 3”).

To comment on the weather.

On a rainy day:

  • “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (B.J. Thomas), “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” (The Fortunes), “Come Clean” (Hilary Duff).

For sunny days:

  • “It’s a Beautiful Morning” (The Rascals), “Good Day Sunshine” (The Tremeloes), or “Walking on Sunshine” (Katrina and The Waves).

To get students on their feet.

Students need a change after 15-20 minutes of sitting. Use any of these when you want to have them stand up to stretch, change where they are sitting, or move for some other reason.

“Get on Your Feet” (Gloria Estefan), “Line Up” (Aerosmith), “Stand Up!” (David Lee Roth), “1-2-3-4” (Ataris), “Up!” (Shania Twain), “Get Up Offa That Thing” (James Brown),“Arkansas Traveler” (“Smokey Mountain Hits” CD)

As students are moving into collaborative groups.

Look for songs with themes of friends, help, or general encouragement.

“Help,” (Beatles), “We Can Work It Out,” (Beatles), “You’ve Got a Friend” (Carol King), “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers), “Reach Out” (The Four Tops), “I’m into Something Good” (Herman’s Hermits), “Call Me” (Blondie), “You Can Make It if You Try” (James Brown).

After a pair-share review (Students make the immediate connection between these songs and having to recall/review material)

Select songs with titles or lyrics that include “remember,” “memory,”etc.

“Thanks for the Memories” (Bob Hope and Shirley Ross), “Always Something There to Remind Me” (Naked Eyes), “Unforgettable” (Peggy Lee)

As low background music when students are working in small groups, in pairs, or individually, or when they are taking a test.

The volume should be low enough that you could speak at a conversational level without raising your voice. The music should act as a filter for unwanted noise and help create a relaxed, mentally alert state. If any student objects to background music, you should not use it. However, if the entire class likes background music, try to play the same baroque music during the test that was used during the original presentation of the material: it acts as an auditory memory cue.

“Water Music Suite” (Handel), “Brandenberg Concertos” (Bach), “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (Mozart), and music by Telemann, Vivaldi, or Corelli in a major key. Soft piano or violin concertos with orchestral accompaniments work well.

To use music to create positive stress or add drama

“James Bond Suite” (Henry Rabinowitz and the RCA Orchestra), “Law and Order” (TV theme), “Jeopardy” (TV theme); “Mission Impossible” (TV theme); “Jaws” (movie theme, John Williams), “In the Hall of the Mountain King” (from “Peer Gynt” by Grieg)

To energize students or have them physically move:

Select highly rhythmic music in a major key or any upbeat music or song. Beats per minute should be 70-140.

“Shake It Up” (The Cars), “Fun, Fun, Fun” (Beach Boys), “Bonanza” (TV theme), “Listen to the Music” (Doobie Brothers), “We Got the Beat” (Go-Gos),

To relax or calm students, to use for stretching, or activities such as reflection, journaling, and visualization.

Beats per minute should be 40-60.

“The Lake House” (movie theme; Rachel Portman), “Chariots of Fire” (Vangelis), “The Reivers” (movie theme), “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” (Eagles);

To celebrate successes or to honor students.

“Olympic Fanfare” (John Williams), “In the Zone” (David Banner), “I Just Want to Celebrate” (Rare Earth), “Celebrate” (Three Dog Night), “Celebration” (Kool and the Gang), “We Are the Champions” (Queen).

To end class:

Select upbeat, fun, or funny music; lyrics may pertain to leaving.

“Never Can Say Goodbye” (Gloria Gaynor), “So Long, Farewell” (from “The Sound of Music”), “Who Let the Dogs Out” (Baja Men), “Happy Trails” (Roy Rogers/Dale Evans).

For other purposes.

Beginning of class

Encouragement, motivation, support:

Funny, and therefore stress-reducing

II. Using Music in Arts-Integration

An arts integrated lesson plan will be similar to a regular lesson plan, with the exception that it will have a place for both the arts learning objectives as well as the objectives for the content area, and will allow students the opportunity to construct understanding through both disciplines.

Consider that you have to create a lesson plan to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. It is, of course, nice to add a song somewhere in the lesson, perhaps a song from the Civil Rights Movement. This does not make the lesson integrated, but rather an Arts-Enhanced-Curriculum as discussed above. Integration requires that there be music objectives as well as subject area objectives, and that both subjects are treated equally. Keep in mind that any lesson can be made into an arts-integrated one, by simply delving in deeper to the art form itself to find structural details and meaning from which to draw. To make a lesson integrated, it is necessary to include social science or history goals and objectives as well as musical information, goals and objectives. For example, including information about the song that incorporates the music itself (form, timbre, melody, rhythm, etc.), while discussing the genre of civil rights songs itself.

To demonstrate a deeper understanding of the tenets and issues of Civil Rights, social science connections can be made not only to slavery in the previous century, but to the pro-union struggle in the earlier part of the 20th century. Students could demonstrate their understanding of Martin Luther King’s leadership and the famous marches of the 60s through song by recreating the march on Washington, DC while singing a civil rights song (“We Shall Not be Moved,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “We Shall Overcome,” etc.)The types of songs used for demonstrations could be analyzed, including their roots in the pro-union movement, gospel and religious music, and/or the use of call and response in the songs, which dates back to slavery and early African-American culture, and particularly how music was used during the protests. A follow-up might focus on blues, jazz and other genres inspired by the music of the Civil Rights movement.

Activity 12A

Try this

Which one of these examples represents Arts as Curriculum, Arts-Enhanced Curriculum, and an Arts-Integrated Curriculum?

  • Students sing a song they learned in music class for a school assembly
  • Students have to explain how sequential groupings work in math and music
  • Students learn the song “50 Nifty United States”

Now try this

  • Students complete a unit on the lifecycle of a caterpillar. How might this lesson be changed to reflect an Arts-Enhanced lesson? Arts-integration? Arts as Curriculum?
  • Create your own examples of the three types of curriculum.

Music Integration with Core Subjects: Vocabulary, Concepts, and Learning Standards

In order to successfully create arts integrated lessons, begin with the state learning standards in the content area in which you are working, then consider the art form you will be using. Explore vocabulary that may help you to work between the two disciplines. Below are two examples of vocabulary lists from Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM, a website dedicated to integration and innovation in teaching.

Activity 12B

Try This

Review the vocabulary lists below. Identify which terms work best for music instruction. Select three of the terms from either list and give an example of how you might use that term to illustrate music concepts in addition to either a math or literacy concept.

Arts Literacy: Common Vocabulary


Shared Vocabulary between Literacy and the Arts


Illustrations, illustrator, listen, setting, space, title, beginning, end.


Audience, character, collaborate, connections, expression, fluent, phrase, plot, segment, sequence.


Analyze, compare, contrast, expression, genre, introduction, point of view, rhythm.


Audience, comparative, dialogue, effect, line, mood, narrator, plot, point of view, scene, stanza, theme.


Animations, categorize, drama, elements, meter, narration, pose, stage direction, theme, verse.


Analyze, compare, conclude, contrast, dialect, dialogue, evaluate, expression, fluent, influence, interpret, mood, multimedia, perspective, perspective, reflection, theme, tone, voice.


Bias, convey, elaborate, interpret, multimedia, perceive, point of view.


Alternate, analyze, audience, categorize, collaborate, composition, concept, embellish, exposure, format, function, interact, medium, mood, segment, structure, tone, unique.


Analyze, bias, characterization, elaborate, evaluate, imagery, point of view, style, symbolism, theme.

9 and 10

Bias, coherence, clarity, comedy, character motivation, diction, dynamic, monologue, mood, plot structure, purpose, soliloquy, theme, tone, tragedy, digital media, quality.

11 and 12

Context, diction, digital media, nuance, perspective, satire, structure, style, subplot, subtle, theme, voice.

Math and the Arts: Common Vocabulary


Shared Vocabulary between Literacy and the Arts


Compare, opposite, before, different, similar, object, measure, pattern, curves, slide.


Similar, object, symbol, group, pattern, compare, half, describe, side, size, parallel, curves, slide, turn.


Form, sequence, pattern, group, interpret, symbol, slide, reflect, turn, measure, three-dimensional, line of symmetry, intersect.


Expression, form, product, length, symbol, combinations, weight, angle, symmetry, line, dimensions.


Comparison, expression, produce, symmetry, measure, length, interpret, frequency, distance, lines.


Patterns, form, expression, variation, inverse, sequence, symbol, product, ratio, part, whole, quarter, half, organize, arrange, scale, line, distance, vertical, diagonal, horizontal, symmetry, transformation.


Scale, measure, compose, symbol, expression, grid, collection, interval, simulation, symmetry.


Point, area, proportion, analyze, compose, notation, expression, value, range, scale, drawings.


Expression, value, notation, frequency, non-linear, rigid, symmetry.

9 and 10

Expression, notation, properties, model, measure, acceleration, scale, direction, structure, value, range, vary, inverse, frequency.

11 and 12

Linear, range, oblique, measure, symmetry, composition, variation, velocity, arc, chord.

III. Generating Ideas for Integrated Lessons

The following grid offers a process for generating integration ideas using music, particularly in making connections across the disciplines. The first row of the grid contains an example of how to generate ideas from a musical concept.


Begin by selecting one music concept to work with. In the first column of the grid below, the word “staff” is written. The lesson is to teach the musical staff to 2nd grade students.


What are your main objectives for the lesson? What should children be able to do by the end of the lesson that they couldn’t do at the beginning? Note: “SWBAT” stands for “Students Will Be Able To.”


What activities could you use to teach the staff? Where would you begin? You might begin by teaching the line and space notes for the treble staff (EGBDF and FACE), and teaching the mnemonics that accompany those note names (i.e. E-Every; G-Good; B-Boy; D-Deserves; F-Fudge). Even at this point, writing the lines on the board, on a smart board, PPT, or even making lines on the floor with tape can be a visual accompaniment to the lesson, and help students learn through body movement as well as visual learning.

Integration Ideas

How might you integrate this concept using different core subject areas? What higher order thinking skills, or vocabulary? Look at the second grade Vocabulary grid above from Education Closet concerning math and the arts and Music and Literacy and select the most appropriate terms to apply to the lesson:

  • (Math and the Arts) Form, Sequence, Pattern, Group
  • (Arts Literacy) Analyze, Compare, Contrast
Common Core Learning Standards

Now refer to the earlier chapter in the book to find the appropriate common core learning standards for the lesson.

Idea Generator: Concept, Objectives, Activities, Integration, Standards

Music Concept




Integration (connections, constructivism, creative process, understanding)


Common Core Standard

Ex. Concept: Reading the Music Staff

Grade: 2nd

SWBAT identify pitches on lines of the treble staff

SWBAT analyze the correlation of skipping and sequential regarding the pitches on the treble staff.

SWBAT understand correlations across disciplines of math, literacy and music between sequential movement and skipping movement

Review (or teach) the pitches of the treble staff, first using sequential alphabet letters, then using the acronyms EGBDF, and FACE.

Create huge lines of treble staff on the floor using masking tape. Mark each line or space with large letters for each note.

Movement: Have students physically move across the floor staff, first sequentially and then skipping line to line and space to space, reciting the letters as they go.

Literacy: Analyze the letters EGBDF as a mnemonic for “Every Good Boy Deserve Fudge.” Brainstorm, having students create their own acronyms for EGBDF and FACE.

Compare and contrast the pitch names on the staff with the letters of the alphabet. Which direction do they go? What are the differences between letters of the alphabet and music pitch names?

Math: Discuss the form of the staff. Is there a pattern? What is it? Does it alternate (skip)? Is it sequential (all in a row)?

Math, Music and Literacy: (EGBDF) . Have students count sequentially. Sequence the letter names by saying them in a row (EFGABC). Then create a pattern by skipping every other letter of the alphabet (B – D – F or A – C – E). Then correlate with math by switching to numbers. Practice grouping by 2s.

Bodily-Kinesthetic, Visual-spatial/Creating, Performing, Participating

1. Concept: Rhythm: Eighth and Quarter notes

Grade: Kindergarten

2. Melody: Pitch

Grade: 4th

3. Timbre: Voice

Grade: 1st

Idea Generator (blank): Concepts, Activities, Materials, Integration

Music Concept



Integration (connections, constructivism, creative process, understanding)


Common Core Standard





Example Integrating Music, Language Arts and Social Studies: “Goober Peas”

(see also “Erie Canal” Lesson Plan in Chapter 6)

Many older songs offer excellent material for integration. For example, the song “Goober Peas” provides students a very inside look at the life of a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. In this case, both the music and lyrics are highly informative, as is the situation in which the song was sung, lending itself to integration through three areas: music, language arts and social sciences.


Timeline: Civil War history timeline including various battles, Sherman’s March, etc.

Song: “Goober Peas”

Text: The Personal Story of Life as a Confederate Soldier, “The Letters of Eli Landers”

Goober Peas

Southern U.S. folk song, 1866

Sung by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War

2. When a horse-man passes, the soldiers have a rule

To cry out their loudest, “Mister here’s your mule!”

But another custom, enchanting-er than these,

Is wearing out your grinders, eating goober peas. (refrain)

3. Just before the battle, the General hears a row

He says, “The Yanks are coming, I hear their rifles now”

He turns around in wonder and what d’ya think he sees?

The Georgia militia, eating goober peas. (refrain)

4. I think my song has lasted almost long enough

The subject’s interesting but the rhymes are mighty tough

I wish the war was over so free from rags and fleas

We’d kiss our wives and sweethearts and gooble goober peas. (refrain)

Integration Process Questions

How might you integrate this song beyond that of “Arts as Enhancement”? What learning principles will you use? How will students be engaged? Demonstrate their understanding? What will be the processes of creation? What connections to other parts of the curriculum can be made? Are the standards present for both the art and the subject? Go through Silverstein & Layne’s Arts Integration checklist below to see how to incorporate an integrated level of understanding to the lesson.

Approach to Teaching
  • Does the lesson contain learning principles of Constructivism (actively built, experiential, evolving, collaborative, problem-solving, and reflective)?
  • Are students engaged in constructing and demonstrating understanding knowledge rather than memorizing and reciting?
Art Form
  • Are the students constructing and demonstrating their understandings through an art form?
Creative Process
  • Are students engaged in a process of creating something original as opposed to copying or parroting?
  • Will the students revise their products?
  • Does the art form connect to another part of the curriculum or a concern/need?
  • Is the connection mutually reinforcing?
Evolving Objectives
  • Are there objectives in both the art form and another part of the curriculum or a concern/need?
  • Have the objectives evolved since the last time the students engaged with this subject matter? Have the objectives evolved since the last time the students engaged with this subject matter?Have the objectives evolved since the last time the students engaged with this subject matter? (Silverstein & Layne, 2014).
Analysis: Vocabulary and Concepts

You’ll find an abundance of material to integrate and connect after analyzing both the music, lyrical/poetic aspects, and social contexts. The musical forms, phrases, harmonies and the poetic structure reveal a great deal of material apart from the content of the lyrics.



  • Dotted rhythm
  • Verse + refrain
  • 4 phrases per verse
  • 4 verses in the song
  • Long-short long-short (trochee stressed-unstressed)
  • Ballad style
  • Rhyme scheme (AABB)
  • Narrative story telling/ballad

Social Studies

Setting: Civil War, soldiers resting on the roadside while waiting for orders for the next confrontation.

Date Written: 1866.

Singers: Popular in the South among Confederate Soldiers (losing the war).

Sentiment: Expresses the living conditions of Confederate soldiers and the public, as the war was lost. Sherman’s troops laid waste to much of Georgia, cutting off food supplies.

Song Vocabulary

Students may not be familiar with these terms:

Goober Peas—another name for boiled peanuts. Eaten by Confederate soldiers during the war when rail lines were cut off, making food and rations scarce.

Messmate—a person/friend in a military camp with which one regularly takes meals.


Row—an argument or fight (rhymes with “cow”).

Georgia Militia—a militia organized under the British that fought the Union during the Civil War. They fought in Sherman’s devastating “March to the Sea” and in the last battle of the Civil War at the Battle of Columbus on the Georgia-Alabama border.

Yanks—Refers to “Yankees” or Union soldiers of the North.

Rags and fleas—Tattered clothing and poor health conditions.


Sing the song “Goober Peas;” Read some of the letters of Eli Landers.

Questions to think about (Historical perspectives of soldiers)
  • What conditions did the soldier’s have to endure?
  • What was happening towards the end of the Civil War?
  • How do you think they felt during this time? (i.e., anxiousness, anticipation, weariness while waiting by the road).
  • Overall, what do the lyrics express on behalf of the Confederate soldiers?
  • What does the reference to the Georgia Militia mean in terms of the fighting?
Ideas for Integration
  • Constructivism: Analyze the music, text, and history (timeline). Reflect what it would be like to be a soldier in the Confederacy during the beginning, middle, and end of the Civil War. Problem Solve as to how to obtain food after the railroad lines were cut off, strategize as to earlier successes during the war.
  • Student Engagement: (historical perspectives). Experience: learn and sing the song. Divide into groups and read Eli Landers letters from different years comparing changes in attitude for a confederate soldier over time from the beginning of the war to the end of the war.
  • Art Form: Analyze by comparing Eli Landers’ letters to the lyrics of the song. What are the differences in historical facts? Sentiment? In terms of the song itself, explore the meaning of the music itself apart from the lyrics—sing the melody of the song on a neutral syllable. What does the melody remind you of? What kind of emotion do you hear in the melody, rhythm and phrasing? Does it seem to complement the lyrics or oppose them? Why might this be the case?
  • Creative Process: Work collaboratively to create further verses of the song or write “letters home” that will express the feelings of soldiers facing defeat. Read the letters from home along with singing the new verses of the song.
  • Objectives (See below)

What Learning Standards or Objectives can you incorporate for this lesson for each of the following?

  1. Language Arts/Social Studies

    a. Language Arts 3: Use knowledge of language and its conventions when speaking, reading, or listening.

    b. Writing 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

    c. Reading 2: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

  2. Music National Standards

    a. 1: Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

    b. 6: Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.

    c. 8: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

Additional Songs for Integrating History/Social Studies

(see also “Erie Canal” Lesson Plan in Chapter 6)

Other examples include songs that are informative and contain a long narrative or historical information for students. For example, the song “Christofo Columbo” chronicles much of the famed voyage including detailed geographic references in a fun and light song.

Christofo Columbo (Christopher Columbus)

Ring Lardner, 1911

To the Kings and Queens of Europe, Columbus told his theory,

They simply thought him crazy, and asked him this here query,

How could the earth stand up if round, it surely would suspend,

For answer, C’lumbus took an egg and stood it on its end.


In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-two, ’twas then Columbus started,

From Pales on the coast of Spain to the westward he departed,

His object was to find a route, a short one to East India,

Columbus wore no whiskers, and the wind it blew quite windy.


When Sixty days away from land, upon the broad Atlantic,

The sailors they went on a strike which nearly caused a panic,

They all demanded eggs to eat for each man in the crew,

Columbus had no eggs aboard, but he made the ship lay too.


The hungry crew impatient grew, and beef-steak they demanded,

Equal to the emergency, Columbus then commanded

That ev’ry sailor who proves true, and his duty never shirks,

Can have a juicy porterhouse, “I’ll get it from the bulwarks.”


Not satisfied with steak and eggs, the crew they yelled for chicken,

Columbus seemed at a loss for once, and the plot it seemed to thicken,

The men threatened to jump overboard, Columbus blocked their pathway,

And cried: “If chicken you must have, I’ll get it from the hatchway.”


The sailors now so long from home with fear became imbued,

On the twelfth day of October their fears were all subdued,

For after Ninety days at sea, they discovered America’s shores,

And quickly made a landing on the Isle of Salvador.


When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

Patrick Gilmore, 1863

American Civil War song

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

Traditional English folk song popular during the Revolutionary War

IV. Music and Literacy/Language Arts

Of all of the content area relationships with music, language arts and music have one of the closest bonds. This bond is rooted within the inseparable relationship between lyrics and music that has existed for thousands of years. People in across countless cultures have chanted or sung poetry for all types of human rituals, ceremonies and for entertainment. When we listen to a song, a musical phrase usually accompanies a phrase of lyrics; a verse or refrain emerges from a short poem. For centuries, ballads, and epics were all sung, as were Biblical chants and Vedic hymns. Long stories and epic tales used music to draw in the audience and to help the reciter’s memorization.

In addition, there is an intrinsic relationship in the discrimination of phonemic sounds and musical sounds for children learning to read. Language and music are intertwined to the point where there is evidence of a connection in the brain between phonemic sound discrimination and musical sound discrimination. In a 1993 study, for example, Lamb and Gregory examined the correlation between phonemic and musical sound discrimination for children reading in their first year of school, and discovered that a child’s ability to discriminate musical sounds is directly related to reading performance, primarily due to their awareness of changes in pitch.

This close relationship allows for multiple avenues for integration. The use of music to build characters through sound expression; create tension in the narrative; highlight important moments in the plot, and so forth, are examples of the high compatibility between words and music.

Creating a “Sound Carpet”

Since music and language have such a close relationship, one of the easiest ways to begin is to combine the two. Creating a sound carpet entails taking a story and adding sound effects, leitmotifs, instruments, vocal sounds, body percussion, and actors and/or a narrator, in order to bring literature to life. The goal of a leitmotif is to help the listener identify the main characters and give each a very short musical pattern, so that every time their name is mentioned, someone plays that pattern. Also, sound effects can be added to enhance the action or bring a fuller meaning or experience. For example, if the story introduces a chiming bell, hit a bell or, for more advanced or older students, play a bell peal on the glockenspiel. Folk tales and fairy tales from around the world are excellent sources for this type of activity

Characters and Leitmotifs

To create a sound carpet, begin by making a list of the main characters in the story. For example, the story The Princess and the Frog has three main characters—the King, Princess and Frog. Sample leitmotifs might look like this:

King: (temple blocks and bass xylophone) q ioq q

Princess: (glissando on glockenspiels)

Frog: scrape guiro; hit hand drums q q q (say “ribbit!”)

Help students create a short phrase or leitmotif for each of the main characters—think of Star Wars’ Darth Vader theme as an example. Every time the name is introduced in the story, their leitmotif should be played. To help the creative process, you might give students a short, simple rhythm to work with to create the motif. Then play the leitmotif on an instrument that helps describe that character. The King’s leitmotif, for example, might be 4 quarter notes played on a trumpet sound on a keyboard, or using an interval of a 5th on any instrument to sound regal and stately.

Sound effects

Next identify locations in the story where sound effects can be used. A running stream could be a glissando on a xylophone; thunder can be played with drums; footsteps with a woodblock, etc.

Body Percussion and Vocals

Then add body percussion (clapping, stomping) or vocal sounds (moans for wind, yells and whoops) to increase the creativity and excitement level in the story.

Introduction and Finale

Add a short song whose lyrics are based on the story, to be sung and played by everyone at the opening and closing of the story.

Finally, assign a narrator, speaking or acting parts, and along with your instruments and sound effects, you have a complete performance that incorporates music composition and creativity along with language arts and theater.

References (Integration)

Appel, M. (2006). Arts Integration across the Curriculum. Leadership, Nov/Dec., 14-17.

Burnaford, G., Aprill, A., & Weiss, C. (Eds.). (2001). Renaissance in the classroom: Arts integration and meaningful Learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.

Elder, J. (n.d.) Brain-friendly music in the classroom. retrieved from:

Goldbert, M,. & Bossenmeyer, M. (1998). Shifting the role of arts in education. Principal. 77, 56-58.

Gullatt, D. (2008). Enhancing student learning through arts integration: implications for the profession. The High School Journal, 85,12-24.

Ingram, D., & Riedel, E. (2003). What does arts integration do for students? (CAREI Research Reports). Minneapolis, MN: Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,

Ingram, D., & Meath, M. (2007). Arts for academic achievement: A compilation of evaluation findings from 2004-2006. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,

Jenson, E. (2002). Teach the arts for reasons beyond the research. The Education Digest, 67(6), 47-53.

Koutsoupidou, T., & D. J. , Hargreaves. (2009). An experimental study of the effects of improvisation on the development of children’s creative thinking in music. Psychology of Music, 3, 251.

Luftig, R. (2000). An investigation of an arts infusion program on creative thinking, academic achievement, affective functioning, and arts appreciation of children at three grade levels. Studies in Art Educatio,: 208-227.

Mishook, J., & Kornhaber, M. (2006). Arts integration in an era of Accountability. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(4), 3-10.

Moore, D. (2013). Make art not the servant. Retrieved from

Rabkin, N., & Redmons, R. (2006). The arts make a difference. Educational Leadership, 63(5), 60-64.

Riley, S. (2012). Shake the sketch: An arts integration workbook. Westminster, MD: Author.

Ruppert, S. (2006). Critical evidence—How the arts benefit student achievement. National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Retrieved from

Silverstein, L. & Layne, S. (2014). “What is Arts Integration?”

References (Music and Literacy)

Butzlaff, R. (2000). Can music be used to teach reading? Journal of Aesthetic Education, 167-178.

Cardany, A. (2013). Nursery rhymes in music and language literacy. General Music Today, 26(2), 30-36.

Carger, C. (2004). Art and literacy with bilingual children. Language Arts, 4, 283-292.

Darrow, A. A. (2008). Music and Literacy. General Music Today, 21(2), 32-34.

Fisher, D., McDonald, N, & Strickland, J. (2001). Early literacy development: A sound practice. General Music Today, 14(3), 15-20.

Lamb, S., & Gregory, A. (1993). The relationship between music and reading in beginning readers. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 13(1), 9-27.

Snyder, S. (1994). Language, movement, and music—Process connections. General Music Today, 7(3).


arts integration: an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process, which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both

leitmotif: a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation

sound carpet: extensive and liberal use of music, sound effects, and character leitmotifs in the performance of a narrative or story

trochee: in poetry, a trochee refers to a syllable pattern of stressed-unstressed, or long-short


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