Got Folk?

“Folk music is the classical music of the people, and, as such, is a perfect bridge leading to and working hand–in–hand with art music.”  — Kodály

The poll results are in. In 2004 and 2009, we asked MENC members about the teaching and learning of American “heritage” and folk songs. It seems members’ opinions on this topic haven’t changed much. Here are the results:

Should students learn American folk heritage songs? 100% said yes in 2009; 95% said yes in 2004.

Do you teach American folk heritage songs to your students? 97% said yes in 2009; 91% said yes in 2004.

Is your music curriculum balanced between multicultural/world musics and “American” music? 85% said yes in 2009.

In 2004, members were asked how frequently or often do you teach American heritage songs? American folk/heritage songs were taught most often, at 85%; American patriotic songs at 77%; and American children’s songs at 75%.

In 2009, we asked members if there are certain American folk songs kids SHOULD know?
80% said yes.

In 2004, we asked members, are these types of songs relevant for today’s world youth/culture? 74% said yes.

In 2004, we also asked how long have you taught? The highest percentage had taught 16–25 years (27%) and 22% over 25 years (teaching from approximately 1979, some starting before that). The majority of respondents taught grades 1–5.

In 2004, members were asked how did you learn these songs?

  • in public elementary school (80%)
  • from parent or other relative (72%)
  • on their own from song books/recordings/books (62%)
  • place of worship (61%)
  • from civic organization, club, youth group, etc. (e.g. Scouts, 4H, etc.) (53%)
  • public middle school (48%)
  • 55% of the 2004 respondents were born between 1941 and 1960, and 33% from 1961 – 1980

–Sue Rarus, May 20, 2009, © National Association for Music Education