Grades 3-12: History through the Arts

Mapping the Beat: The Soundtrack of American History

Historic and Ethnic Music Found to Increase Geographic understanding: A Quasi-Experimental Study

Richardson, R. & Brouillette, L. (2013). Historic and ethnic music found to increase geographic understanding: A quasi-experimental study. Journal for Learning through the Arts 9(1):

Tracing Cultural Migration through Music: An Inquiry Approach to Enhancing Global Understanding

Brouillette, L. & Feder, S. (2010, spring). Tracing cultural migration through music: An inquiry approach to enhancing global understanding, Ohio Social Studies Review.

Implementing the Mapping the Beat Curriculum in the 8th grade

Richardson, R. (2010). Implementing Mapping the Beat in the 8th grade. Journal for Learning through the Arts 6(1):

This interdisciplinary curriculum integrates geography, history and arts instruction into a single body of lesson plans. At the heart of this program are three concepts — environment, identity, and movement—taken from the standards outlined in Geography for Life, the national geography standards. These themes were selected for their significance to the study of both music and geography.

Elementary and secondary students consider how the physical character of a region shapes the music and how, in turn, the music shapes the cultural character of that same region. They investigate the origins of various musical genres and place them in a larger cultural context. Visual and performing arts are viewed as a record of cultural migration, a product of the geographic environment and a cornerstone of personal and group identity.

Check out each of the Mapping the Beat lessons below.

Country: America’s Music (Early Influences and Instruments)

Black and white image of a man playing a fiddleThe objectives of this lesson are to visually recognize and describe instruments commonly associated with country music (namely the fiddle, guitar, and banjo), to recognize audio samples of music played be each instrument, and to describe from where each instrument originated. (Primarily targeted for Fifth Grade)

Flutes, Natural Resources and Native American Cultures on the Plains

Line drawing of a native american village sceneThe objective of this lesson is to explore the concepts of natural resources and trade via a study of Great Plains tribes and Native American music. Ideally a specialist in Native American music performance would visit the classroom in conjunction with this lesson. (Primarily targeted for Fifth Grade)

The Global Origins of Atlantic Slavery and the African Diaspora

image of a 'griot', a learned storyteller from MaliThe objectives of this lesson are to identify how characteristics of different physical and social environments placed constraints on the creation of music among African Slaves in the United States and to recognize parallel changes in their own lives. Ideally a banjo player would be invited to perform as part of this lesson. (Primarily targeted for Fifth Grade)

More on Mapping the Beat

The Mapping the Beat curriculum has been implemented in K-12 classrooms by the ArtsBridge America national network, with support from the UCI Center for Learning in the Arts, Sciences, and Sustainability, by the following university ArtsBridge programs: Appalachian State University; Lawrence University; Michigan State University; Oklahoma State University; University of Delaware, University of California, Los Angeles; and the University of California, San Diego. This project was made possible by a grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation.