Banging the drum for music in lessons

28th March 2008 at 00:00

Whether it's "Waltzing Matilda" or "You'll Never Walk Alone", some songs are inexorably linked with places, writes Helen Ward.

For Arthur Kelly, senior lecturer in education at Liverpool Hope University, such songs are just the thing to get primary school children interested in geography.

"Map skills using atlases can be a dry and dull lesson," he said.

"I work in teacher education. I give the trainee teachers a selection of music from different countries around the world, then go and find out where places are on the map.

"It's all about the emotional impact of pieces of music. It makes finding out about places enjoyable.

"If you say, `This is a piece of music from South Africa - can you find this place?', you can still learn what oceans border it, but the music gives some emotional connection. It makes it a bit more fun."

Mr Kelly is due to speak at the Geographical Association's annual conference today.

As well as music being a way to learn about different countries, he said that it could be useful when studying different cultures in England. The key stage 2 music curriculum already suggests teaching music from different cultures.

But Mr Kelly said music should be used to promote appreciation of other cultures and expand children's horizons, instead of just to tick boxes on the curriculum.

"As well as exposing children to the music of Mexico and India to enrich their understanding of those places, there is also a bigger issue of intercultural understanding."

He added: "Some children might find it difficult to respect music from different cultures. We are quite narrow in our view of music, if you look at the pop charts."

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