The purpose of this capstone project, Developing a Listening Library of American Music, is to create directed listening opportunities for elementary students. In reality, most students will eventually become music listeners and appreciators rather than performers. Therefore, the more listening opportunities they are afforded at a young, impressionable age, the greater the likelihood of their enjoying a broader variety of musical styles as they mature.
The materials in this project are designed to be used mainly outside of the music classroom through the use of cassette tapes to be checked out from a listening library. Each tape is accompanied by a specially designed “Listener Response Sheet.” The music that has been chosen correlates with a fifth-grade social studies curriculum on American History. The eras or time periods selected are as follows: Colonial America (1600-1770), The Revolutionary War (1770-1790), The Expanding Frontier (1790-1860), The Civil War and America’s Coming of Age (1860-1890), Turn-of-the-Century (1890-1915), and World War I and the Roaring Twenties (1915-1928).
The procedures used to develop the listening library included reading and research in American history as well as the historical development of American music. Chapter III, entitled “Historical Perspectives,” contains a brief synopsis of each of the six time periods that were studied during the research. The literature review (Chapter II) examines studies concerning influences on musical preferences and music listening which helped to establish my criteria for choosing music for the listening library. After many hours of listening, music was selected and copyright requests for two copies of each piece were made to various recording companies in order to have a “master” copy and a library check-out copy.
The self-contained listening guides, or “Listener Response Sheets,” were then designed for each tape in the listening library. These are intended to be simple enough to be completed without teacher assistance, yet challenging enough to encourage learning, and in some cases, creative thinking. The “Listener Response Sheets” can be used by teachers as an assessment tool as well as a measurement for completion of the listening assignment.
Financing for the initial costs of the tapes for the listening library was obtained through the Parent Teacher Association. Money was also provided for the purchase of an inexpensive walkman tape player to be used by students who do not have access to a tape player. If possible, more than one copy of each tape should be made available to ensure adequate circulation.
The early outcomes have shown that students are highly motivated to listen when they can take the music home with them. Positive and encouraging feedback has been received from parents who were able to enjoy the listening experience with their children. It is hoped that the listening library will continue to grow and develop as appropriate music is discovered and copyright permission is secured.