New Music Education Resources

Some Great Music Education Resources

Every so often, some visitor or another to the Music Library holds something up and says to us: “Well, people really ought to know about this” or “I wish I’d known earlier that you had something like this.” New and old resources alike await their advocates, so in that spirit, what you have here is an attempt to hold a few things up ourselves.

The Music Library is home to a wide-ranging array of materials on the history, philosophy, and practice of music education. But the first item on the agenda should probably be an announcement that the Libraries now provide access to the online version of RILM Abstracts of Musical Literature. A veritable powerhouse of support for research into all aspects of music, RILM is a comprehensive annotated bibliography, which includes indexing from 3,700 journals, documents monographs, catalogues, conference proceedings, and other publications. Current UArts faculty and students with up-to-date accounts will find not only materials surveyed since RILM began indexing contributed abstracts in 1967, but also a growing body of full-text options, owing to RILM’s recent integration into the family of EBSCOhost databases (scroll down the list here (The Music Library also has the full run of hard copy volumes of RILM Abstractsfrom 1967-1999, should anyone prefer to browse print.) It is the most comprehensive attempt to organize the entire published record of literature about human music-making.

Of particular interest to music educators will be several Oxford “handbook” entries, including The Oxford Handbook of Music EducationThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music EducationThe Oxford Handbook of Children’s Musical Cultures and The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. A generation’s thought and experience are summarized from fields investigating musical creativity, community music-making, technologies of music teaching and learning, listening and playing in special needs contexts, music therapy, to say nothing of the moving target that is school music in our time.

Saint-Saëns started composing at the age of three, Chopin at the age of seven, Beethoven at the age of 12. Bach and Stravinsky were late bloomers, first writing music in their teens. Mary Lou Williams improvised at age five, Bix Beiderbecke at age seven, and Buddy Rich led his first band from the drumset at eleven. There have been many child composers and improvisers. For a long time now a successful pedagogical philosophy has developed based on the premise that the bric-a-brac of theory serves as an obstacle, not an avenue, to musical understanding. Learning by doing—creating sound sources, devising notation, playing ex tempore—was advocated as a classroom strategy as long ago as Brian Dennis’s Experimental Music in Schools of 1970  and Murray Schafer’s “Composer in the Classroom” (reprinted in The Thinking Ear).  Another Canadian, Rena Upitis, got enthusiastic results teaching composition to students in inner-city schools, and documented some of them in Can I Play You My Song?. MENC has gotten into the act with Why and How to Teach Music Composition, but perhaps the most in-depth analysis of methods for introducing such creativity into pre-K-8 classrooms is Joanna Glover’s Children Composing, 4-14.

There’s no shortage of ideas for lesson plans, and it’s certainly not up to those of us on the sidelines to recommend the best route to take. But it does seem like everyone can sometimes use a reminder of where the peg is to hang your hat: creativity happens because it’s rewarding (also known as fun). Just something appealing about these: Michiko Yurko’s Music Mind Games, addressed to all ages and skill levels ; and Mary Mazzacane’s Music Education Through Puppetry, which relates music lesson planning to the history of musical instruments, basic music concepts, and events in American history. Oh, and how to get your hands into puppetry—(it had to be said)—too.

The Oxford Handbook of Music Education Music Open Stacks MT 1 .O93 2012

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Music Education Music Open Stacks MT 1 .O94 2012

The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Musical Cultures Music Open Stacks ML 83 .O94 2013

The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies Music Open Stacks QC 225 .o94 2012

Experimental Music in Schools Music Open Stacks MT 1 .D445E9 1970

The Thinking Ear: Complete Writings on Music Education Music REF MT 1 .S3T4 1986

Can I Play You My Song? Music REF MT 155 .U65C2 1992

Why and How to Teach Music Composition. Music Open Stacks MT155 .W59 2003

Children Composing, 4-14. Music REF MT155 .G56 2000

Music Mind Games Music MERA MT948 .Y87 1992

Music Education through Puppetry Music Open Stacks MT10 .M39M8 1984

Questions? Comments? Recommendations? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact Mark Germer, UArts Music Librarian, at 215-717-6293 or

Library staff recommendation: Grendel

by John Gardner
Greenfield Open Stacks 813 G174g

Based on the epic Beowulf, John Gardner shows us the perspective of one of the most renowned monsters in Western literature. A creature filled with rage, self-loathing, and self-pity, Grendel struggles to find a purpose and meaning to his isolated and vengeful life, long before his fateful meeting with the ancient epic hero. Gardner’s language is evocative, vicious, and devastating, and creates a portrait of a monster with all-too-human emotions – envy, jealousy, fear, and the desire to find and meet one’s destiny.

Recommended by Mike Sgier
Recommended by Mike Sgier

Library staff recommendation: Class Pictures

Class Pictures
Photographs by Dawoud Bey
Greenfield Open Stacks 779.2 B468c 2007

Whether it is a quick flip through the pages, or a deeper reading of the profiles, Dawoud Bey’s Class Pictures is a great book to pick up. Bey intimately photographs high school students and juxtaposes these images with reflections written by themselves. The accompanying text keeps the viewer returning to the portrait of the subject. I recommend this book for the casual viewers and the intense readers. You can read just a couple profiles or the entire book, but hopefully you will go away feeling as captivated as I do.

Recommended by Greenfield Library workstudy assistant Sarah Gantt.

Library staff recommendation: The Facsimile Score, Window to Musical Creativity

IX. Symphonie, Partiturentwurf [9th Symphony draft score]
By Gustav Mahler
Music Library Reference ML 96.5 .M214 no. 9 1999

The UArts Music Library is home to over 14,000 music scores, covering a wide variety of different styles, composers, and time periods.  Within the collection, you can find a number of facsimile scores that are available to anybody visiting the library, including both sketch scores and full scores.  You can find the composer’s own comments, thoughts, edits, and other compositional notes throughout these reproductions.  Although many are not cleaned-up final drafts, these uncommon windows into musical creativity allow you to see the thoughts behind the compositional process firsthand, and you can find them in the Reference section and in the Special Collections of the Music Library.

The framework of a masterpiece, Gustav Mahler: IX. Symphonie, Partiturentwurf, is a sketch of the first three movements of Mahler’s last completed symphony.  The Ninth is an imperial and substantial work, a capstone of the Romantic Era, and can be viewed as the culmination of almost 100 years of Romantic influences and of his own previous works.

This piece stands out from the rest as a particularly fascinating score to be reproduced in facsimile.  Mahler is remembered for the highly specific and meticulous techniques he includes in his works for the performers.  Consequently, he was writing down in great detail all of the expressitivity he was hoping to hear from the orchestra in this facsimile score.  Markings such as “Schattenhaft”, which means shadowy, are not performance markings frequently found in a music score.  Directions like “Nicht eilen”, meaning, “do not rush”, are personal notes for Mahler’s own conducting, which did not even make it into the published score.  Also found is “Jugendzeit entschwundene! O lieber! Verwehte!,”  which can be translated to, “Vanished youth! Oh dear! Blown away!” which might refer to Mahler’s own life, since he was to pass away from a weakening heart condition shortly after composing the piece.  Such personal and compositional directions are only a few of the many notes found throughout the draft score.

There are always insights to be gained from looking at a revised and cleaned up score while listening to a piece of music.  However, viewing the exact markings of a composer while listening to the work is an indescribable experience, bringing one closer to the moment of creation and the understanding of a musical mastermind.

-Recommended by Nick Lombardelli, Music Library Work Study Assistant


Library staff recommendation: Krazy & Ignatz: Shifting Sands Dusts its Cheeks in Powdered Beauty

Krazy & Ignatz: Shifting Sands Dusts its Cheeks in Powdered Beauty
by George Herriman
Greenfield Open Stacks 741.5 H435kr 2006

Krazy Kat is one of those comics that I’m always returning to, either for inspiration or for a brief respite from my daily troubles. The shifting landscapes, the playful language, the diverse residents of Coconino county, the continual love quadrangle of cat, mouse, dog and brick – it all exudes pure joy from the page. This book is an especially worthy addition to Fantagraphics efforts to reissue and restore these comics for future generations to discover.

Recommended by Mike Sgier
Recommended by Mike Sgier