June is African American Music Appreciation Month, and so I sat down and made a list of some of my favorite songs written by Black artists from various decades and in various musical genres. My list ended up including favorites from jazz, classical, R&B, pop, and more. This month’s challenge is in hopes your student will get to listen to some of these songs, ones you probably love as well, by artists like Stevie Wonder, Etta James, ragtime-extraordinaire Scott Joplin, and I even threw in a classic by Destiny’s Child.
My list is full of songs that make us feel something. They move us emotionally or even physically. That’s why this month’s challenge is called Dance & Draw Party. When we listen to good music, we want to DO something about it. We want to express how it makes us feel. I want your students to choose how they want to do something about these songs: dance, or draw.
These practices are so important in teaching music appreciation. Music doesn’t simply go in and out of our ears; it moves us in a deeper way. A great song written by a great artist can even alter history. Imagine listening to Prince’s Purple Rain. How or what would you draw while hearing that song? What about a classical song? How might you dance to it? You and your student could even do some partner dancing, as if you are in a fancy, black-and-white movie.
Either clear out a space on the floor for some movement or provide your student with some art supplies – markers, crayons, or even paint – and encourage them to “feel” the music, drawing what they feel. There are no wrong answers when it comes to art. And here, we are helping our students see that art – music, dance, and visual art – are all forms of self-expression. And expressing ourselves in a creative way is a healthy and valuable part of being human.
I’d definitely encourage you to join in with your student and model some simple self-expression, either with crayons, or your best dance-floor moves from the 90’s. Turn up the volume! They will love it!
(If you’re a member of Busy Kids Do Piano, you’ll be able to access this Music Challenge Monthly activity in the “Printables and Worksheets” section of the website.)
Check out these posts for other activities and lessons for African American Music Appreciation Month:
Children’s Books for African-American Music Appreciation Month
African American Music Appreciation Month: Nina Simone
Episode 31: Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Episode 66: The Life and Music of Florence Price
Episode 48: Folk Music of Congo
Episode 14: African-American Spirituals & Gospel Music