American Folk Music and Folk Tales

American Folk Music and Folk Tales

The Performing Arts in America have evolved over the last 400 years. It is fun to remind students that ONCE UPON A TIME, we didn’t have any form of electronic entertainment. So how did people fill their time, other than with back breaking work? By getting together to share traditional music and stories passed down through generations. In fact, music in America evolved from three distinct genres brought by groups of immigrants in its formative years: Irish/Scots folk music, traditional African music, and European Christian Hymns.

We are exploring the development of these forms through singing songs like “Boil them Cabbage Down”, and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, as well as creating percussion patterns for accompaniment.


In Drama students are learning about the author Joel Chandler Harris and his Uncle Remus tales. Once again, these folk stories were handed down through an oral tradition brought to America by Africans. Students listen to the stories, evaluate the emotions expressed by each character, and then act them out in pantomime form.

These opportunities develop skills in identifying rhythmic patterns and notation, analyzing the playability of created patterns, and consistency in production of beat patterns. In addition, students are experimenting and observing how to act for an audience with expressive facial expressions, and precise hand and body movements. 


Julie Pappas