Huzzah vs. Humbug at the Holiday Hootenanny*

Where do you stand on seasonal holiday recognition in school music class/concerts?

NAfME recently heard from a member who asked:
What resources are available about what songs can be “banned” from my classroom when a parent complains?

When asked for details, this member told NAfME:

“Banning types of songs is an issue that comes up pretty regularly here. . . often initiated by a different parent each time, but not always. In the attempt to help our district create a policy about censorship, I am trying to pull some resources/research together, as I’m tired of having songs/activities chopped from my classroom because one parent complains, when hundreds of children and their parents like the song/activity. Right now, the decision is based on mere opinion. More often than not, the song is axed because the administrator just doesn’t want the hassle of parents raising an even bigger stink if we keep it.”

Some songs that received complaints include:

  • a Halloween song (students who don’t celebrate Halloween are allowed to sit out)
  • “Must Be a Leprechaun” (complaint being that it teaches lying and shifting responsibility to a leprechaun)
  • “Be Kind to Your Parents” (complaint being that it teaches disrespect toward parents)
  • Hanukkah songs (because Christians don’t celebrate it)
  • religious Christmas songs (because others don’t have these beliefs)
  • Santa songs (because it is Satan transposed)
  • hunting songs (because of cruelty to animals, or use of weapons).

“In some cases, parents were willing to have it settled simply by having their child sit out. If they had chosen to demand the song’s removal, there is no protection — at this point — to stop that from happening. I want to change that.

“It seems to me that if intelligent people disagree on a song, it should not be cut. If 90% of the population felt the song was inappropriate for elementary school children, that would be a pretty clear indication that it should be removed. I believe the burden of proof should lie with the parents. They should prove that the song is disagreeable to the general population, not just a particular interest group.

“I would love to hear from others or read information on how to deal with these complaints.”

What do you think? Have suggestions ? Please comment below, and /or on the choral forums


Curriculum Resources Covering Holidays & Observances from Around the World 
Holiday Hoopla 
Holidays or Holy Days: A Mini-Lesson on Celebrations

NAfME Position Statement on Sacred Music in School 

: is gathering of folk musicians wherein each person gets an allotted amount of time in which to share a song or song(s) they wrote; or a gathering at which folksingers entertain often with the audience joining in (Merriam)  First Known Use: 1929

Huzzah: Archaic way of saying “Hurrah! Or Hooray!” – or simply an exclamation; seen in literature at least since Shakespeare’s time;

“Huzzah! Enjoy your holiday/winter break, maybe host a hootenanny – unless you’re a humbug!”

Sue Rarus, December 16, 2011 © National Association for Music Education