Music and social studies mesh easily. Perhaps in no other area of the curriculum is there such an abundance of songs that can add richness to the day. The National Standards for Music Education support the relationship between music, social studies, and other content disciplines. Content Standards 8 and 9, “Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts” and “Understanding music in relation to history and culture” (Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, 1994, pp. 28–29), address music and social studies in ways that apply to early childhood education. The curriculum standards for social studies in the early grades “describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in that culture” (National Council for the Social Studies, 1994, p. xiii).
Multicultural music can include songs, singing games and dances, instrumental music, stories, and poetry. Every area of social studies—history, geography, civics, economics, sociology, and anthropology—can be illustrated through music. The geography of our country is revealed through song. Our historic milestones are carried from generation to generation with music as we sing beautiful anthems like “America the Beautiful.” When we sing this traditional anthem let us always remember that all human beings, no matter where their family originated, are members of the global village of America.
Songs from around the world help us learn about individuals, our similarities and differences, and what makes us all special. Counting songs, songs about color, musical stories, choral speaking, and action songs can be found in all the languages of the world and from all the cultures that speak these languages. Our enthusiasm, participation, flexibility, and willingness to learn songs from other cultures will encourage children to enlarge their musical repertoire.