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

Bob Moog Inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame

At the end of March 2013 Bob Moog was honored with an invitation to become a 2013 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The honor is given to individuals who have “conceived, patented, and advanced” technologies affecting change in the modern world. The invention holds the Patent No. 3475623 and is usually referred to as the Moog Ladder Filter, the first voltage-controlled filter. It is this basic version of dynamic filter controlled at the keyboard—and pioneered in the Minimoog Synthesizer—that enables the electric pulse beating through nearly all modern mass-commercial popular music, from Kraftwerk and Michael Jackson to Brian Eno and Dr. Dre. For the announcement and more information, go to <>. Also, see the Music Library’s holdings relating to Bob Moog and his synthesizers.

The Digital Public Library of America launches!

April 18, 2013 : The DPLA launches!

As part of the ever-expanding role of libraries in the digital age, the launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) must count as a remarkable event. Fully open, that is, without any gated components whatsoever, the DPLA will provide platforms for contributors to build on, with the almost mystical goal of amassing and making available all manner of information sources, with an emphasis on that which is not currently accessible, thus multiplying the benefits of the Internet for generations to come.

Anyone of us who at some time has valued primary sources—correspondence, working papers, diaries, minutes, inventories, genealogies, photographs, maps, blueprints, sound recordings, in sum the documented traces of human history—has occasion to celebrate this “greatest digital history project of all time” as those steering at the helm envision it. Inspired by Europeana Library and the Trove Project of Australia, and vastly more capacious than commercial initiatives such as Google Books, the DPLA not only has partnerships underway with a myriad state and university archives, but also with the national libraries of France, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany, and Norway.

Innovations such as “Workstream” collectives charged with governance, finance, and constructive channeling of input, to say nothing of the idea of the “Scannebago” (a mobile scanning unit designed to be sent out to digitize local archives), have engendered a certain excitement. A chronicle of how the idea got off the ground, owing to the efforts of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, has been cheerfully and succinctly outlined by Robert Darnton in the New York Review of Books:




A Chapter in the History of Visual Music (a Music Library mini-exhibit)

Wassily Kandinsky, "Impression III (Concert)", 1911. Inspired by Schönberg's "First and Second String Quartets, opp. 7 and 10".

It is now a century since the term “visual music” was coined, by the artist and critic Roger Fry, to describe paintings by Wassily Kandinsky that seemed to incorporate a temporal dimension, a sense of embedded timelines, in which viewers followed spiraling sequences to their cadential ends. Long before electronic composition and cinematography, artists of many stripes pursued the emancipation of noise—luminous as well as acoustic—in settings that downplayed linear narration.


Excerpts from the vocal score for "Erwartung", piano reduction by Eduard Steuermann, former faculty member of the School of Music (Philadelphia Musical Academy) Music Library Open Stacks M1503 .S365E7

Many paths radiated from here—the anti-music of Futurism, the sound poems of Dada, sound-color projection, gestural abstraction—but the Music Library is pausing to commemorate an early Expressionistic work when none of those paths was yet foreseen. Upon hearing the experimental scores of Arnold Schoenberg, Kandinsky initiated what turned out to be a lasting friendship with the composer, who in turn contributed articles to Kandinsky’s publication Der blaue Reiter, as well as participated, with paintings of his own, in exhibitions of works by members of Kandinsky’s circle. Our focus is Schoenberg’s monodrama Erwartung (Expectation), an exercise, as Schoenberg acknowledged, in visual music-making.

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Excerpts of Erwartung performed by the De Nederlandse Opera in 2005.