Sharing Cultures: Community and Online Sources

“Integrating music study across the curriculum is an important teaching approach,” says MENC member William Anderson. “Students benefit considerably from connecting learning in any single subject with other areas of the total curriculum. For example, studying the music of another area of the world, such as India, might benefit from also studying other aspects of Indian culture (e.g., in social studies).”

If people from India (or any culture) live in your community, Anderson recommends inviting them to give short presentations on their beliefs, holidays, clothing (particularly the distinctive female saris), art, and music. Some may have musical instruments, such as tabla (drums) and sitar, they can bring. “Through a multidimensional study of India, students are much more likely to enjoy and remember what they have learned about music as an aspect of its culture,” Anderson says.

Anderson likes using the many downloadable electronic resources available. In his lesson plan, “Important Musical Instruments of North India,” he uses resources from these Web sites:

He saves these music files on his laptop computer or MP3 player, plays them for his classes for illustration, and asks students take them home for further listening. In addition, still pictures of musicians and instruments from sites like Google Images and videos from sites like YouTube can be downloaded and projected on to a screen.

In his lesson plan, Anderson shows his students a sitar and tabla performance along the Ganges River on YouTube, assigns them Internet research, and has them follow a 7-beat tala from a downloaded tabla composition. Read the entire lesson in My Music Class.

William M. Anderson is professor emeritus and founding director of the Center for the Study of World Musics at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, and is coeditor of Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education.

Linda Brown, January 7, 2009, © National Association for Music Education (