Diversity in Music

Published by Darlene on

My family and I participated in a program called Nashville Neighbors. We were on a team with three other families. We went every couple of weeks to a refugee family’s apartment and taught them about life in America. We taught them about medical situations, when to call 911 and when to go see a doctor at the clinic. Lessons were also taught about buying groceries, mental health, hygiene, and many other things. It was a great experience and we plan to do it again.

In fact, Nashville has a lot of refugees and one elementary school has students that represent 38 different languages. I have a friend at a church just across the road from the elementary school that hosts an international music camp each summer. When I began to think about how to help those children experience music, it was a challenge and research that lead to some profound realizations.

Music in Any Language

First music truly is a universal language. Fur Elise sounds like Fur Elise in any language. Beat and rhythm also speak universally. A beat can be represented by a clap no matter what language a person speaks. Second, although a quarter note can be called different things because of different languages, it’s shape or meaning doesn’t change. But many children have not been exposed to notes, what they look like or what they are called. However, children from any language are exposed to color at a very early age. So let’s use different languages and color to introduce notes.

Thus is born, The Music Color Cube (MCC). The first edition of the MCC introduces notes to children. It does so with a different color on each card. Also on each card is eight different languages. The languages are the top five foreign languages and the top three refugee languages spoken in the United States.

Ways to Use the Cube

My friend, Jennifer over at Sing to Kids, was talking about her son. The first time, he saw a kid in a storybook with the same color skin as him, he was so excited. That was part of the inspiration for this product. I wanted something where kids could recognize themselves. Even though storybooks about music and musical concepts are important, they are not always practical when learning to read notation. However, if young children see a color word that they recognize, studies show that as a positive receptor in the brain and is effective in introducing new words or concepts. For example, “This is a quarter note. A red quarter note.

What if you live in an area where there is not a lot of diversity? This is the perfect time to introduce diversity to your students. Lessons for diversity are written within each edition of the MCC. The first version is the Notes Edition. The second version is the Classroom Instruments edition. The third, to release by April 1st, is the Dynamics Edition.

In each product download there is a color cube that is printable. I suggest printing on cardstock and laminating before taping or gluing the sides together. This will help the cube last longer. However, these wonderful plush cubes are available but there is only a limited supply.

Please don’t miss out on this versatile, intentional, multi-use cube and all the games that go with it. Available now at www.darleneabbott.net.

Music Color Cube


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