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."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today