The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Special Musical Guests

About a week ago or so, I got an email from our music teacher asking me if I’d be interested in having my class join with the two fifth grade classes to hear a special musical performance. Through a grant with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, she was able to arrange to have two musicians who specialise in the folk music of the Great Depression and the Civil Rights movement.

Late last week, she emailed again to confirm our plans and I asked if she’d invited the other fourth grade class, too. She hadn’t yet, but she did and, due to available changes in our schedules as a result of district-required benchmark testing, they were able to come, too.

This was the first time that our two classes were joined together for an extended period of time. Of course, the two fifth grade classes were there, too, but there was a bit of concern about how well the classes would do together since there had been some peer conflicts earlier in the year.

I don’t know why I worry. I mean, really, every time I think something has the potential to end disastrously, it never does. In fact, it always works out incredibly well! This was no different!

The students really enjoyed the opportunity! The guys who came shared poems by Carl Sandburg, folk songs that had been gathered throughout the Depression, and music by Woody Guthrie. They had several songs that they invited the audience to join in the chorus for several songs.



My favourite part was when they sang the song The Sinking of the Reuben James, which is a song that I first learned through my dad, who, among many other things, is a guitar player who raised his children on classic folk music. However, the version I was raised with was by The Kingston Trio, but it was still a really fun experience. They also shared the Erie Canal song, which I have a book about in my classroom. It also has the words and music for the song they sang, so I was able to pull it out to share with the class.

I need to find more ways to incorporate music in my classroom!


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