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Rockin' Around the World

© Beverley Paine, August 2007

[this article forms part of a series on Geography you can buy as a Practical Homeschooling booklet from Always Learning Books]

In this activity, hopefully conducted as a unit study over many months and revisited as the children age and develop their musical understanding, skills and knowledge, the children will research the geographical histories of various musical genres and mark on a map of the world places that note important places in music history.

The aim of this unit study is to show how geography effects migration and how migration assists the evolution of music around the world. This activity helps children understand the relationships between music, history, geogrpahy and the development of technology.

There are many ways you can present the knowledge and skills gained in this unit of work, but the way I like best is through conversation learning, the making of simple musical instruments from around the world and from various times in history, learning to play them as well as other instruments, and by visiting performances by musicians whenever we can.

Your children may like to create lapbooks to display their knowledge, or keep a "Rockin' Around the World" journal of their virtual musical travels through time and place.

If you don't have an extensive collection of different genre music at home, try searching on the internet for samples. Ask your friends if you can borrow CDs or mp3s. You might like to concentrate on a particular genre each month and explore the historical and geographical roots of that genre. A starting point might be to ask the children what is their favourite type of music and examine that first...

Some of the objectives you might consider when doing this activity could be:

  • what is your favourite genre of music (hip-hop, country, folk, pop, indie, r&b, classical, alternative, blues, jazz, salsa, meringue, rock, musical theater, etc.).
  • what sets this music apart from other genres?
  • why is it your favourite?
  • list where in our country, and in the rest of the world, is important to this genre.
  • examine your favourite music genres and and discuss what makes them unique and appealing;
  • explore the different perspectives on the birth of each genre;
  • follow the movement of a genre of music from where it originated and talk about why and how it moved from place to place - mark the journeys on a map so that you can see when as well as where;
  • discuss what makes a particular style of music, or instrument (and don't forget the human voice as musical instrument) appealing;
  • research and discuss why different styles of music become popular at different times in history;
  • write geographical biographies about your favourite musical artists;
    compare music from different eras and investigate the geographical factors that helped to fashion the music of each era.
  • play clips of their respective recordings and look for variations in taste between the children - examine why people like different musical styles;
  • investigae when and where the genres originated;
  • find out if there cities or countries that are important to more than one genre
  • research and name at least five important artists who produced music in each genre. Find out when and where were they born, when and where they began performing, when and where they produced the majority of their music, and who were their musical influences.
  • you might like to include in your investigation any events were important in the history of each musical style, when they occured and what musicians and artists (or other significant people or events) were involved.
  • what musical genres are being created today?
  • why do young people and adults generally listen to different types of music?
  • if you could combine two genres of music to create a new genre, what would you create?
  • do you think musicians have a lot of influence over young people?
  • which musical artists act as good role models? How and why? Is it important that they do or don't?

Extension Activities

Pick one country and write a profile of its traditional music. Make sure to note important musical artists and important musical instruments. Also give a brief description of how this type of music has changed over time. You may like to create some traditional percussion instruments, or try your hand at writing or playing a traditional piece of music that you can present at a homeschooling concert.

Create a podcast or YouTube video in which you discuss the origins of one genre of music, play clips of related songs, discuss influences, artists, regions, and history.

Organize one or more themed afternoon or evening activities for a group of people around a particular genre of music and invite friends and family to perform and share the music.

Compose a piece of music in which you combine two genres of music.

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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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