“Arroz con Leche”: Song of the Month – June/2024


June 1, 2024

Arroz con Leche” is a singing game well-known throughout Central and South America. In this charming variant, the rice pudding wants to marry someone who can knit, embroider and sew; the wedding bells (“ding, dong”) are followed by little bread soup (“sopita de pan”). The singer, Cruz Losada, grew up in Puerto Rico and performed the song in Oakland, California in 1939.

The recording is part of the Library of Congress's “California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties” collection, directed by Sidney Robertson Powell. “Arroz con Leche” contains a link to the American Folklife Center's exciting new blog: Celebrating California Gold: AFC's New Story Map on the Northern California Folk Music from the 1930s Collection.

“Barbara Allen”: Song of the Month – May/2024


May 1, 2024

Barbara Allen,” a song about unrequited love in which both lovers die, is one of the oldest and best known ballads in the English language.  The first known reference to the song is a January 2, 1666 journal entry in The Diary of Samuel Pepys in which Pepys refers to it as a “little Scottish song.”

The ballad typically begins: “’Twas in the merry month of May, The buds they were a-swelling;  Sweet William on his deathbed lay for the love of Barbara Allen.” However, in this performance by Anna Fiske, recorded in 1948 in Washington D.C., the first verse introduces Barbara first, along with the town in which she lived, and how all the lads pined for her. The ballad ends with William and Barbara buried side by side in a church yard with a rose growing from his grave, a briar from hers, and the plants joining together: “They grew and grew to the old church tower till they could not grow any higher; And there they tied a true love’s knot with the rose around the briar.”

“It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”: Song of the Month – April/2024


April 1, 2024

It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More” is a partner stealing game, played similarly to “Skip to my Lou.”  Performed by a group of girls in Eatonville, FL in 1935, the song was recorded by Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle. 

Zora Neale Hurston, author and folklorist, grew up in Eatonville, the oldest all-Black town in the United States. It was incorporated by twenty-seven Black men in 1887, and served as a model of freedom and autonomy to African-Americans throughout the South during the Reconstruction era. 

“Down By the Riverside”: Song of the Month – March/2024


March 12, 2024

This 1966 recording of “Down By the Riverside” was excerpted from the film Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison, produced by Pete and Toshi Seeger with Bruce Jackson in Texas. The film records a group of prison inmates hoeing in rhythm in a field while singing. The Biblical text is drawn from the Book of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

“The song was first popular during the American Civil War, then had a renaissance during the Vietnam War, when it became an anthem of the anti-war movement. ‘Down By the Riverside,’ once rarely heard outside black churches, was suddenly being sung by millions of white middle-class college students.”  Daniel R. Katz, Why Freedom Matters: The Spirit of the Declaration of Independence in Two Centuries of Prose, Poetry and Song

 

 

“Groundhog”: Song of the Month – February/2024


February 1, 2024

The two variants of this song on our site, “Groundhog #1”, recorded in Virginia in 1939, and “Groundhog #2”, recorded in Arkansas in 1964, share remarkably similar tunes.  However “Groundhog #2” has 6 additional verses, each more colorful than the last. The final verse, “Old Aunt Sal, she’s the mammy of them all, She fed them on whistle pig before they could crawl”,  refers to another name for the groundhog inspired by its unique “whistle” call. 

“According to an ancient belief (still taken more or less seriously by many farmers), the weather on Candlemas (Groundhog) Day determines the good or ill luck that will attend spring sowing and planting, which should begin on that date. If the day is sunny and the groundhog can see his shadow when he comes out of his winter den, wintry weather will continue and blast tender crops. If the weather is gloomy and bad, the groundhog will cast no shadow and the omens are for a good spring. The old folk calendar, however, was a notoriously vague affair. . . . The Missouri Legislature sought to settle the discussion by fixing the date as February 2nd , but old-timers, in Arkansas especially, claim that Groundhog Day is February 14th . “ [Alan Lomax, Folk Songs of North America]

“The Big Sheep”: Song of the Month – January/2024


January 2, 2024

The Big Sheep” was often sung in the English Midlands by village youths going from house to house in midwinter or at New Year's with one dressed in a sheepskin to represent the ram, which symbolized good luck for the coming year. A relic of ancient fertility rites, the song is wide-spread throughout the English-speaking world, with the life-giving capacity of the ram represented by its prodigious size. This performance by Austin Harmon in Tennessee in 1939 was recorded by Herbert Halpert. 

"There is a tradition that George Washington sang this song to the children of Chief Justice Ellsworth and even a further tradition which believes that 'this was the only folk song that George Washington ever sang.' It is a 'lying song' as fantastic as Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox and as popular."  (from the liner notes to Anglo-American Songs and Ballads, Library of Congress AAFS L12)

“Christ Was Born in Bethlehem”: Song of the Month – December/2023


December 1, 2023

In this beautiful carol, “Christ Was Born in Bethlehem”, Jean Ritchie created new verses for what was traditionally an Easter song. The carol begins with three repetitions of the text “Christ was born in Bethlehem”.  The third iteration of the word “Bethlehem” introduces the mixolydian mode, connecting the listener to an earlier time and place. It is performed here with additional singers who provide a simple, exquisite harmonization.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Our current web address is kodalycollection.org. For many years we were also located at kodaly.hnu.edu, where the program started. The URL kodaly.hnu.edu continued to work for the past year, but has finally disappeared. If you have a problem reaching the site, please be sure that you are using the correct address -- https://www.kodalycollection.org.

“Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”: Song of the Month – November/2023


November 9, 2023

This month’s song, “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” features two variants of the well-known spiritual “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” “Climbing Jacob's Ladder #1” was sung by Lucile Henson in Texas in 1936, and “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder #2” was performed by Mrs. Ewart Wilson in North Carolina in 1929. Their melodies, while quite similar to each other, bear little resemblance to the better known “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.”  Their texts are also strikingly different: rather than ending with the refrain “Soldiers of the Cross,” both use the refrain “Lord, I’m on my way,” an expression sometimes used as code for announcing the intent to escape and perhaps an invitation to join the singer.  

A  link to Bernice Johnson Reagon and her vocal group’s performance of “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” on the soundtrack of Ken Burns’ 1 990 documentary, “The Civil War,” can be found in the background information for “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” 

“De Colores”: Song of the Month – October/2023


October 1, 2023

De Colores” is a traditional Spanish language song that is known throughout the Americas. While it is most closely associated with Mexican folklore, its origin is unknown. Some have conjectured that it originated as a folk song in Spain that was then brought to the New World in the 16th century.

Led by César Chávez (1927-1993), the United Farm Workers (UFW) chose this song as an anthem in their fight for the rights for migrant farm workers in the United States. It has become one of the most well-known Spanish language songs in the Americas and is performed at both festivals and political rallies. 

“What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?”: Song of the Month – September/2023


September 1, 2023

“What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?” is often used in music classrooms for text improvisation, with students suggesting what punishments should be meted out to a drunken sailor.  “Make him walk the plank,” “feed him to the sharks,” throw him in the hold,” are examples of commonly improvised verses.  The chorus typically appears as  “Way, hay, and up she rises.”

This recording, collected in 1939 in North Carolina, omits the chorus, which we have added with a different spelling: “Weigh, heigh, and up she rises.” This spelling reflects the fact that sailors used the term “drunken sailor” to refer to the ship’s anchor, which was heavy and difficult to haul up. “Put him in a longboat ‘til he’s sober” referred to loading the anchor into a small boat to drain and clean of seaweed and debris before bringing on board. 

“Momma, Buy Me a China Doll”: Song of the Month – August/2023


August 1, 2023

Buy Me a China Doll,” performed by Christine Harvey in 1954, is an interesting variant of the better known “Momma, Buy Me a Chiny Doll” by Almeda Riddle.   In the song, a dialogue arises when a child asks her mother for a doll, and then suggests trading their daddy’s feather bed, since the family has no money. The child imagines where her daddy would sleep (horse’s bed), and as the song continues the displacements become more and more comical (piggy pen, chicken coop, Grandma’s rocking chair, garden gate). 

Christine Harvey’s variant provides a connection between the horse and the garden gate, an element missing in the Riddle version.

Where shall the horses sleep?. . . Tie them by the river side. 

What shall we tie them with?. . . Tie them with the children's swing. 

Where shall the children swing?. . .  Swing on the garden gate.

Several children’s books illustrate this folk song: see Songs as Storybooks for one example.

“Can’t You Line It”: Song of the Month – July/2023


July 1, 2023

Folklorist and author Zora Neale Hurston collected track-lining songs sung by workers laying track along the Florida East Coast Railway in the early 1930s, including “Can’t You Line It.” “Lining track” was the last and crucial stage of the laying of the railroad track, in which the 900-pound rails were moved by a group of men into perfect alignment. 

Track-lining songs enabled the men to move together, using crowbar-like implements to move the rail. The singer who led the songs was as essential to the process as the “captain” who sighted down the track to determine how the rail needed to be moved. Hurston noted that “the railroad has to pay the singing liner or else the men won’t work.”

Holy Names University closure


June 7, 2023

We are saddened to share the news that Holy Names University, founded in 1868 in Oakland, California by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, closed its doors on May 15, 2023.  Sister Mary Alice Hein, a music professor who met Zoltán Kodály when he visited Stanford in 1966, founded the Kodály program at Holy Names in 1969.  

This website, which was created by Kodály faculty Gail Needleman and Anne Laskey with the help of website developer Larry Larson, will continue its mission of providing quality folk song materials from primary sources.  The url will migrate from kodaly.hnu.edu to kodalycollection.org.  Please note that future communications from this website will be addressed from kodalycollection.org.

We hope you will continue to benefit from access to this site, which remains free.  If you would like to donate to the Kodály Foundation for Music Education, a non-profit established in 2021 for the ongoing support of the Kodály Center, please visit KFME.

“The Mouse Who Lived on a Hill”: Song of the Month – June/2023


June 1, 2023

The Mouse Who Live on a Hill,” sung by 12-year old Gloria Green in 1947, is a charming variant of “Frog Went a Courting.” The wedding feast, attended by Mr. Snake, Mr. Chick and Dr. Fly, was resplendent with cabbage, corn and black-eyed peas.  After moving to France, the couple had six children (all rats). It was recorded by John A. Lomax in Washington, D.C.

This is one of the most popular folksongs in the English language.  Other variants of this song on our website include “Frog Went a Courtin’,” “The Frog’s Courtship,” “Frog He Would a-Wooing Go,” and “The Frog He Would a-Wooing Ride.”

“Brave Boys”: Song of the Month – May/2023


May 1, 2023

“It was eighteen hundred and thirty-nine, on the fourteenth day of May, When we weighed our anchor and set our sail, and for Greenland bore away, brave boys, and for Greenland bore away.” So begins the tale of “Brave Boys,” also known as the “Greenland Whale Fishery.” Singer Gale Huntington relates that while Native Americans had hunted whales for meat, colonists were merely interested in their oil. When whales became scarce off the Eastern coast, whaling voyages would last for a year or more, sailing around Cape Horn to seek their valuable prey in the Pacific. 

Over the roughly two and a half centuries of the industry, seaports in southeastern Massachusetts were the centers of the trade. Johanna Colcord, author of Roll and Go: Songs of American Sailormen, states that "the song arose in the British whaling trade, probably in the latter part of the 18th century.”

 

“God Moved on the Water”: Song of the Month – April/2023


April 1, 2023

The sinking of the SS Titanic took place on April 14, 1912. There were any number of reasons “that great ship went down”: from design flaws and an inexperienced crew, to a lack of lifeboats and a failure to heed the warnings from other ships, and—perhaps lesser known—an unusually warm year, in which many icebergs broke off from the polar ice cap. But in the flood of folklore that grew up about the sinking of the Titanic, it was the tale of human pride and sacrifice that gained the day.  “God Moved on the Water,” was performed by Washington (“Lightnin’”) and a group of inmates at Darrington State Prison in Sandy Point, Texas in 1933.

“Tree in the Wood”: Song of the Month – March/2023


March 1, 2023

As we approach spring, we celebrate the rebirth of the plant and animal worlds.  One of the oldest songs to capture this rebirth is “Tree in the Wood,” a cumulative song that itemizes parts of a tree that support a nest, an egg, and finally, a bird. Two variants of the song on this site represent different cultural settings, “Rattlin’ Bog” (performed by the Clancy children in Tipperary, Ireland in the 1950s) and “Beautiful Field” (performed by Sam Jackson in Hopewell, VA in 1945). The song lends itself to textual improvisation, as students imagine “what was on that bird?” 

“I Will Give My Love an Apple”: Song of the Month – February/2023


February 1, 2023

In English-speaking countries, “The Riddle Song” is one of the best loved and oldest songs in the language.  “I Will Give My Love an Apple” is a rare and beautiful song of this type.  The text of the first two verses appears in print sources in the early 19th century, but it has been discovered in the oral tradition only twice: in this version, from Southwestern England, and, with a different melody, in a variant from Nova Scotia.   

“Come by Here”: Song of the Month – January/2023


January 1, 2023

“Come By Here” is an African-American spiritual that was widely known in the South at least by the 1930s, when it was recorded in several states. In this recording, it is sung by a group of inmates at a women’s prison in Florida in 1936.  The earliest recording, from Georgia in 1926, is on this site as “Come By Here #2.” It features the Gullah-Geechee pronunciation of the word “here”—something like “hyah” or “yah”—that influenced the most well-known version of this song, “Kumbaya.” 

 

“Kumbaya” has recently acquired a somewhat cynical shade of meaning, with “singing Kumbaya” as a kind of shorthand for a naïve belief in the possibility of human connection. It may be a useful corrective for us to hear and to feel the depth of the entreaty, sung by the descendants of slaves and perhaps even by their enslaved ancestors, in the traditional song.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas”: Song of the Month – December/2022


December 1, 2022

The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a surprising variation of the well-known carol that features a partridge in a pear tree.  In this minor scale variant, “one plump partridge” is followed by “two fine ducks.”  It was sung by Mrs. G.C. Erskine in Cheshire, Connecticut in 1945, and is part of the Flanders Ballad Collection held at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.

2023 IKS Symposium Call for Proposals


November 5, 2022

IKS Golden Anniversary: Connecting Humanity Through Music

The 26th International Kodály Symposium will take place on July 31 - August 4, 2023 at the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles, California, USA. The Symposium is a bi-annual international event, serving as a platform to educate, engage, support and foster connections for aspiring and experienced music educators, ethnomusicologists and musicians internationally.

Paper, workshop and performance proposals are open Oct 1 - Dec 1, 2022 (applicants will receive notification by Dec 31, 2022).  For more information, visit  www.ikssymposium2023.org/call-for-proposals.  

EXTENDED DEADLINE

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“A Pares y Nones”: Song of the Month – November/2022


November 1, 2022

“A Pares y Nones” is a children’s song with a simple text and melody, and whose game enforces the concept of even and odd (pares y nones). A circle is formed with an odd number of children. At the end of the song, players find a partner, leaving one child without a partner in the middle of the circle, and the game repeats. It was sung by Guadalupe Villegas Borbolla (9 years old) in 1957 in Mexico City and later published in Francisco Moncada Garcia’s  Juegos infantiles tradicionales

NCAKE Choral Reading Workshop 


October 25, 2022

Join the Northern California Association of Kodály Educators for a Choral Reading Workshop featuring Gemma Arguelles, Ildikó Thész Salgado and Marni Strome. This workshop will highlight music for treble and mixed voices from:
- The Philippines and Asia
- Hungary and Europe
- Canada and Women composers

Studio Theater, VCPA Building (in-person with option for Zoom*), Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Blvd, Oakland, CA

NCAKE/OAKE member price: $15; non-member price: $20

*A video recording will be made available to all registered participants for up to one month.  

To register, visit: https://www.ncake.org/workshops

“Santy Anno”: Song of the Month – October/2022


October 1, 2022

Santy Anno was sung by sailors making the trip from Liverpool around Cape Horn to California, a six-month voyage! Originally a pumping shanty, it was adapted for the capstan shanty, and remained one of the most popular shanties of the age of sail. It remains of interest today not only for its musical value, but for its historical content—referencing both the Mexican-American War and the California gold rush which followed. 

Unlike most versions of this song, which claim that “Santy Anno gained the day/All on the plains of Mexico,” this version gets the facts right: Zacharias (Zachary) Taylor and (General Winfield) Scott in fact “made poor Santy meet his Waterloo” (at the Battle of Buena Vista, 1847).  It was performed by J. M. Hunt ("Sailor Dad") in Marion, VA in 1935.

When the Train Comes Along”: Song of the Month – September/2022


September 1, 2022

When the Train Comes Along was performed by Ray Estill, with guitar accompaniment, in Middlefork, KY in 1937. The image of the journey to heaven happening via train (rather than chariot, e.g.), appeared in many spirituals in the nineteenth century, including several other songs on our site: The Gospel Train, If I Got My Ticket, Can I Ride, I’m Going Home on the Morning Train, This Train (Is Bound for Glory) and Train Is a-Coming. This recording was collected by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax.

Bright Morning Stars Are Rising

August 10, 2022

We are excited to announce the publication of the 50th Anniversary Anthology of the Kodály Center at Holy Names University, Bright Morning Stars Are Rising. The anthology reflects the significant role the Kodály Center has played in implementing Zoltán Kodály’s vision for music education in the United States and around the world. It features 26 articles which were chosen from more than 125 articles by Holy Names faculty and alumni which have appeared in the Bulletin of the International Kodály Society and OAKE’s Kodály Envoy since 1975.

Articles by American, Canadian, Australian and Filipino authors explore Kodály’s life and thought, and what these mean for us today. The anthology ends with writings of some of the many Hungarian teachers who have worked with Holy Names faculty to adapt Kodály’s philosophy in the United States. It was edited by Anne Laskey and Gail Needleman, cocreators of this website, and is available for purchase online through B&N and Amazon.

“Threading My Grandmother’s Needle”: Song of the Month – August/2022


August 1, 2022

Threading My Grandmother’s Needle is a variant of “How Many Miles to Babylon?” with a similar dialogue between two lines of singers. It is interesting to imagine how the game, recorded in 1943 in Springfield, VT, might have been played. The directions on the recording were hard to apply, so we invented a game that we think fits the lyrics. The last part of the song, “It’s so dark we cannot see to thread my grandmother’s needle,” is sung as the two lines stand back to back. It ends with the two lines turning back to face each other, singing the mysterious “Who stole the barby bush?”

The song contains a special challenge: it begins with a spoken dialogue between the two lines, requiring the singers to find their pitch again for the singing section.

“I’m Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad”: Song of the Month – July/2022

Juy 1, 2022

I’m Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad was sung by Gussie Ward Stone in 1940 at the FSA Camp in Arvin, CA. It forms part of the Library of Congress’s Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Workers Collection. Their work was part of the WPA project to document conditions in the camps established to house refugees from the Great Depression and the droughts that led to the Dust Bowl. While this is not the earliest recording of this song, it was collected before Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan popularized it.

"Free at Last": Song of the Month – June/2022

June 1, 2022

Free at Last is a well-known African American spiritual which was famously quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King in his “I Have a Dream” speech given at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

This performance of Free at Last was sung by Becky Elzy and Alberta Bradford, two black women who had been born into slavery. Whether Alan Lomax, who recorded it at Avery Island, LA between June 17-19, 1935, realized the significance of the date [coinciding with “Juneteenth”] is unknown.

“May Day Carol”: Song of the Month – May/2022

May 1, 2022

May Day Carol is a folk carol Christianizing the spring rites of pagan Europe, when it was common for youths to gather flowers and branches from the forest and go door to door to wish good luck and prosperity. May Poles, dancing, drinking and other ways of celebrating May Day often accompanied this ritual. This performance, from Folk-Legacy’s Edna Ritchie, is by Jean Ritchie’s sister, Edna.

“Black is the Color”: Song of the Month – April/2022

April 1, 2022

The lyrics of Black is the Color capture the passage of time, the turn from winter to spring: “The winter’s past, the leaves are green, the time is past that we have seen; and yet I hope the time will come, when you and I shall be as one.” It is one of our most well-known songs of love and is believed to have originated in Scotland. This performance by Betty Smith, who accompanies herself on a psaltery, is from Folk-Legacy’s Songs Traditionally Sung in North Carolina.

Gail Needleman - In Memoriam

March 22, 2022

It is with immense sadness that we share that Gail Needleman passed away on March 2, 2022. Gail, co-author of the online American Folk Song Collection, transcribed the majority of the recordings on this website. She also wrote extensive background information for many of the folksongs to allow teachers to present songs in their cultural and historical context. You can watch her final presentation, with co-author Anne Laskey, as she presents songs researched during their work with the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources program here.

“A-Working on the Railroad”: Song of the Month – March/2022

March 1, 2022

A-Working on the Railroad was performed by Ernest Bourne in 1939 and forms part of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. Mr. Bourne was from Utah, where the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869. The song reflects the work of thousands of Irish immigrants to the United States who built railways between the 1820s and 1860s. It was also sung as a shanty on sailing ships to raise the anchor.

“Great Day”: Song of the Month – February/2022

February 1, 2022

Great Day, recorded by John and Ruby Lomax, was performed by four prisoners held at the Texas State Prison in Huntsville in 1939. The imagery in this gospel song portrays the prophetic vision of the Day of Judgment—the day when all people are revealed as they truly are, and the good are separated from the bad. From the liars running, to the preachers marching and the mothers resting, the song invites us to contemplate where we each stand as we face ourselves, our communities, and our future.

"Building Bridges through Listening" – Saturday, March 5

February 8, 2022

Anne Laskey and Gail Needleman will present the session “Building Bridges through Listening: Primary Sources in the Music Classroom” for the 2022 OAKE National Conference which will be held in Pittsburg, PA from March 3 – 6. Recent grants from both the Western and Eastern Regions of the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources program have allowed Needleman and Laskey to continue their research in the Library’s Archive of American Folk Song. The session will include recordings from a variety of performers and cultures for teachers to share with their students.

“A New Year’s Carol”: Song of the Month – January/2022

January 1, 2022

A New Year’s Carol was performed by Matthew Todd in Scotland in 2014, with harp accompaniment on an instrument made by his grandfather. The carol was sung in Wales by children visiting their neighbors to welcome the new year. The association of music with ceremonial beginnings, from the bugle announcing “Reveille” to the singing of “Auld Lang Syne,” reminds us of the essential power of music to orient our feelings towards hope for the future, which we all wish for at the turning of the year.

“The Cherry Tree Carol”: Song of the Month – December/2021

December 1, 2021

The Cherry Tree Carol #2 was sung by Maud Long, a member of a famous family of folk singers, in Hot Springs, North Carolina in 1946. It forms part of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. The legend described in this beautiful ballad comes from late antiquity. The tree in question was originally a palm tree in Egypt; in the European and American versions it has become a cherry or apple tree. The naming of the “fifth day of January” as the date of Christmas refers to what was still celebrated in Southern Appalachia as “Old Christmas,” dating from the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1751.

Another version of this song can be found at The Cherry Tree Carol #1.

“Away Rio”: Song of the Month – November/2021

November 1, 2021

Away, Rio was a capstan or windlass chantey, used for taking in the anchor. It was often the first song sung on an outward-bound voyage (commonly undertaken in November), and was popular on both British and American ships. This performance is part of the Library of Congress’s online collection, California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties. It was performed by Captain Leighton Robinson, who remained active in the San Francisco maritime community after his retirement, teaching young people to sail and to sing shanties. He participated in the community effort to save the sailing ship Balclutha, which now hosts hands-on educational activities at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

“The Old Chisholm Trail”: Song of the Month – October/2021

October 1, 2021

The Old Chisholm Trail #2 is considered the most authentic of all the cowboy ballads. This tale of a cattle drive begins: “We started up the trail October twenty-third.” Although the subject of the song is the cowboy’s life on the trail, the lyrics reflect many aspects of the cultural and historical context of the song. It was performed by former cowboy J.T. Reid, whose father drove cattle up the Chisholm Trail. Collected in Albuquerque, NM in 1951 by John Donald Robb, the recording is part of the Robb Collection housed at the Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico. For other variants, see “The Old Chisholm Trail #1” and “Coma-ti-yi-yupy.”

“Fight for Union Recognition”: Song of the Month – September/2021

September 6, 2021

Fight for Union Recognition is a Depression-era protest song created by Jack Latham during the cotton strike at Arvin, California in 1939. Performed by union organizers Bert and Ruby Rains, it is part of the Library of Congress’s online Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Workers Collection. A lesson plan is included for use in grades 5-10.

“Dos y Dos Son Cuatro”: Song of the Month – August/2021

August 1, 2021

Dos y Dos Son Cuatro is a popular Spanish singing game. In this variant, singers count to treinta y dos (32), starting by 2s, then by 8s. Performed by Isabella Salazar in Texas in 1939 and recorded by John A. and Ruby T. Lomax, it forms part of the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song.

“Old Kimball”: Song of the Month – July/2021

Thurs. July 1, 2021

For the 4th of July, we would like to offer a marvelous example of the living, ongoing intertwining of cultures that characterizes American folk song. Old Kimball, a song about a race horse, was performed by Texas Gladden in 1941 and is part of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.

“Frog He Would a-Wooing Go”: Song of the Month – June/2021

Wed June 1, 2021

Frog He Would a-Wooing Go is one of the oldest Anglo-American folk songs, mentioned in “The Complaynt of Scotland” in 1549. Performer Gail Stoddard Storm stated that it was handed down through her family, who came to Massachusetts with the first European settlers who arrived in Plymouth.

"All Around the Maypole": Song of the Month – May/2021

May 1, 2021

All Around the Maypole is a joyous African-American singing game to “welcome in the May.” This 1934 performance by eight girls who attended the Kirby Industrial School in Atmore, Alabama was recorded by John A. Lomax. It is part of the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song and includes game directions and background information about the song.

“El Alba”: Song of the Month – April/2021

April 5, 2021

El Alba is a Spanish hymn that was sung at dawn to welcome the day. This performance by Rubén Cobos was recorded in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1963. It forms part of the John Donald Robb Collection at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico.

“Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm”: Song of the Month – Mar/2021

Mar. 11, 2021

Wasn't That a Mighty Storm, a song about the great Galveston storm of 1900, is in the tradition of ballads about disasters, such as the more familiar “Sinking of the Titanic.” Sung as part of an Easter Service at Darrington State Prison in Sandy Point, Texas in 1934, it was recorded by John A. Lomax for the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song.

Our thoughts are with the people of Texas as they recover from the most recent storm.

“This Little Light of Mine”: Song of the Month – Feb/2021

Feb.18, 2021

This Little Light of Mine was performed by Jim Boyd in Huntsville, Texas in 1934. His lyrics “Round these prison walls, I’m goin’ to let it shine” reflect how folk songs express the conditions in which they are sung. It was recorded by John A. Lomax and is part of the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song. This song came to play a central role in the Civil Rights Movement; read more about it in the background notes on the site.

National Humanities Center Collaboration – 2021

Feb. 8, 2021

Our recent grant from the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources program has opened the door to collaboration with the National Humanities Center. The NHC is a national resource devoted to advancing significant humanistic study and reflection and to making those insights available both inside and outside the academic world. We have been invited to provide content for the digital resources of the NHC and have prepared 25 folk songs for initial inclusion on their site: National Humanities Center. All of the songs include recordings and scores, and many also include photos, background information, and recommendations for relevant teaching resources. Go to “Humanities in Class Digital Library” and search for the subject Arts and Humanities to find links to these songs.

“The United States Needs Prayer Everywhere”: Song of the Month – Jan/2021

Jan. 25, 2021

Each month we will choose a song to feature—one of the treasures we have come across in our research. We begin with “The United States Needs Prayer Everywhere” which we found during one of our visits to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The United States Needs Prayer Everywhere was performed by Lulu Morris and congregation of the African Methodist Church in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1939. It was recorded by Herbert Halpert and is part of the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song.

Kodály Center joins TPS Consortium

Nov. 7, 2020

The Kodály Center has been named a Consortium member of the Library of Congress's Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program. The TPS Consortium is a network of educational organizations throughout the United States supporting teachers in the use of primary source materials. We have just completed a project for the Western Region of TPS, Folk Songs of the Western United States: Building a Unique Resource for Teachers, which allowed us to add over 100 field recordings for the Library of Congress to the collection. In addition, we have just received a grant for a new project, Folk Songs of the Eastern United States: Providing Primary Sources for K-12 Educators. This will support our work to research field recordings from the Eastern United States and to develop curricular materials for the use of folk songs in the classroom.

The TPS Consortium extends the reach and use of the TPS program by creating curriculum, delivering professional development to pre-and in-service teachers, and contributing to researching effective strategies for incorporations primary sources in K-12 instruction. Their projects reflect focus on various teacher and student populations, professional concentrations, program approaches, and geographic locations.

HNU Kodály Summer 2020 Offerings

May 31, 2020

This summer, there will be a variety of online offerings – credit and non-credit, throughout the usual 3 week period of our intensive summer experience. Continuing Education Units (CEU) are available for select courses, through the School of Education.

Kickstart graduate credits this summer and work towards certificate requirements during intensive weekends in the Fall/Spring. Inquire about $1,000 scholarships for Levels Courses.

International participants will be able to join us via video-conferencing to attend all non-credit options.

Adult Sight-reading classes, Masters Series, Special Topics, Twilight Talks and more!

Information and links can be found at: Kodaly Summer Offerings.

Storybooks Based on Folk Songs

April 24, 2020

Storybooks based on folk songs provide an ideal way for children to learn and sing stories passed from one generation to another. The online American Folk Song Collection now features some of our favorite storybooks which are based on songs in this collection. Songs on the website include scores as well as field recordings, additional verses, singing game directions, and background information where available. You can find this new feature at Storybooks Based on Folk Songs.

SONGS FROM THE DUST BOWL

March 6

New Curriculum Resource, They Brought Their Songs with Them: Songs from the Dust Bowl at Songs from the Dust Bowl.

SONGS FROM THE DUST BOWL

March 6

New Curriculum Resource, They Brought Their Songs with Them: Songs from the Dust Bowl at Songs from the Dust Bowl.

Folk Music and Cultural Context

11/23/2019

American folk song contains a rich repository of cultural and historical knowledge and reflects in many ways the complex history of our nation. American music teachers have sometimes thought of our folk heritage simply as musical material. But a growing number of teachers wish also to use our musical heritage to open larger questions, about community, about human values, about how to live in our changing world.

We are currently working to provide more information about the history and cultural contexts of the songs on this site. We welcome your thoughts and comments as we embark on this exciting and much needed project.

NCAKE Workshop with Maree Hennessy - October 19, 2019

10/16/2019

MUSIC FOR MIXED LEVEL CLASSES AND OLDER BEGINNER

Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019; 9:30 am to 1:00 pm

Aspire Berkley Maynard Academy, 6200 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA

Many music teachers find themselves working with classes of mixed skill levels and experiences, including older students who are new to learning music. Explore repertoire, tools, and teaching practices that inspire students make connections, to develop holistic musicianship, to strive and thrive as young people and as musicians. Join Maree Hennessy, director of the Kodály Center at Holy Names University, for an inspiring workshop for teachers of students of all ages!

Group discounts are available for schools, choirs, and other organizations who send multiple teachers. Email info@ncake.org to learn more! 

Songs Recently Added from FSA Camps in CA

4/17/2019

In May of 2018, the Kodály Center received funding from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Partner Program, Western Region, to research songs from the western United States. Since then, we have added over 50 new songs, primarily from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and California. Several of these were located in the LOC’s Voices from the Dust Bowl collection, recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin between 1940 and 1941 at various FSA (Farm Security Administration) camps in California. Titles from that collection now on our website include: Skip to My Lou, Sent My Brown Jug Downtown, Miller Boy, Barbara Allen, Lloyd Bateman, Chimchack, She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain, Charming Betsy, and Soldier, Won’t You Marry Me. The first four are rare examples of actual recordings of play-parties being danced and sung in the community centers of the FSA camps.

2019 HNU Kodály Summer Institute June 24 - July 13

3/19/2019

Holy Names University's Kodály Summer Institute offers an introduction to Kodály philosophy, including musicianship training, conducting, curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, and materials for teaching. Course work within the institute can be applied towards the Master's Degree in Music Education or Kodály Summer Certification. Classes meet daily, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Faculty: Maree Hennessy, László Nemes, Gemma Arguelles, Hélène Matters, Miriam Factora, Fran Smith.

Register Now! Levels I, II and III

The Institute choral concert will take place on Saturday, July 13 at 2:00pm and is free to the public. For more information, email mhennessy@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

NCAKE Workshop with Melanie DeMore - February 2, 2019

1/11/2019

Local treasure Melanie DeMore is a musical force, empowering singers of all ages to use music to promote social justice. She will introduce us to musical practices and songs from the Georgia sea islands along with other music from the African-American tradition, and inspire us with the power of music to build community.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 2, 2019 9:30 AM- 1 PM

FAIRVIEW ELEMENTARY: 23515 MAUD AVE, HAYWARD

Melanie DeMore, an accomplished songwriter, composer and choral conductor, has a level of understanding as to the pure intention of Music that comes to only a very few in each generation. She has been a formidable presence onstage at such noted venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, international folk music festivals from Europe to Cuba to New Zealand. She has shared the stage with some of the world’s most notable musicians and political activists from Gloria Steinem, Odetta, Pete Seeger, and Judy Collins to Ed Asner, Holly Near, Ronnie Gilbert, and Ani Di Franco.

For more information, visit The NCAKE Web Page.

Agustin Lira and Patricia Wells in concert - Sept. 23, 2018

9/8/2018

NCAKE (the Northern California Association of Kodaly Educators) and Holy Names University co-sponsor this exciting event--perfect for music lovers, teachers, and those interested in California's musical history. Agustin Lira and Patricia Wells will share songs, stories, and historical background about music that shaped California history. The performance will take place at San Francisco's Community Music Center - Capp Street, Sunday, Sept. 23, 3:00 p.m.

Agustín Lira was the musical voice of the farmworkers' movement in the 1960’s; a cofounder of El Teatro Campesino with Luis Valdez during the Delano Grape Strike headed by Cesar Chavez, he was the preeminent musical voice of the early Chicano Movement. Lira blended Mexican song traditions with Anglo folk and popular musical forms to create a new kind of folk music that continues to evolve. Cost: $20 general, $10/students with ID, payable at the door one hour prior to performance.

For more information, visit The NCAKE Web Page.

2018 HNU Kodály Summer Institute June 18 - July 6

Feb. 23, 2018

Holy Names University's Kodály Summer Institute offers an introduction to Kodály philosophy, including musicianship training, conducting, curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, and materials for teaching. Course work within the institute can be applied towards the Master's Degree in Music Education or Kodály Summer Certification. Classes meet daily, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Faculty: Maree Hennessy, László Nemes, Gemma Arguelles, Helene Matters, Miriam Factora, Fran Smith.

The Institute choral concert will take place on Friday, July 6 at 7:30pm and is free to the public. For more information, email mhennessy@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

2017 HNU Kodaly Summer Institute June 19 - July 7

March 9, 2017

Holy Names University's Kodaly Summer Institute offers an introduction to Kodaly philosophy, including musicianship training, conducting, curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, and materials for teaching. Course work within the institute can be applied towards the Master's Degree in Music Education or Kodaly Summer Certification. Classes meet daily, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Faculty: Maree Hennessy, Laszlo Nemes, Gemma Arguelles,Helene Matters, Miriam Factora, Fran Smith.

The Institute choral concert will take place on Friday, July 7 at 7:30pm and is free to the public. For more information, email mhennessy@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

2016 HNU Kodaly Summer Institute June 27 - July 15

May 28, 2016

Holy Names University's Kodaly Summer Institute offers an introduction to Kodaly philosophy, including musicianship training, conducting, curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, and materials for teaching. Course work within the institute can be applied towards the Master's Degree in Music Education or Kodaly Summer Certification. Classes meet daily, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Faculty: Laszlo Nemes, Helga Dietrich, Gemma Arguelles, Ildiko Salgado, Helene Matters, Maree Hennessy, Fran Smith, Janos Horvath.

Special Sessions:

Choral Pedagogy with Laszlo Nemes - July 1-2

Early Childhood with Helga Dietrich - July 2 - 9

The Institute choral concert will take place on Friday, July 15 at 7:30pm and is free to the public. For more information, email mhennessy@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

OAKE National Conference Presentation

March 9, 2016

Gail Needleman and Anne Laskey will present newly researched songs from the WPA California Folk Music Project during the 2016 National Conference of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, to be held in Long Beach, CA from March 10-13. Housed at the Library of Congress, this collection of over 1,000 songs includes songs from 16 European, Middle Eastern and Spanish speaking ethnic groups living in California in the 1930’s. 185 performers were recorded for the project, which was undertaken in conjunction with the University of California at Berkeley.
Songs and games at the conference session will be drawn from immigrant communities from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Finland, Armenia, and various regions throughout the United States. These songs and many others from the collection are being added to this website.

NCAKE Workshop - January 30, 2016

January 30, 2016

Gemma Arguelles and Andrew Brown, two Bay Area choral directors, will introduce some of their favorite repertoire for children's choirs and will equip you with teaching strategies for these pieces. Gemma, elementary music teacher at Sacred Heart in San Francisco, will share music for beginning to intermediate elementary choirs. She will also present her selections for the mass choir of the 2016 HNU/NCAKE Children's Choral Festival. Andrew is Artistic Director of the Contra Costa Children's Chorus, and will present repertoire for middle and high school students. The workshop will provide an inspiring opportunity to learn from two educators who are renowned for their ability to instill musicianship in young people.

Holy Names University, VCPA, Studio Theater, 9:30am – 1:00pm

For more information, visit The NCAKE Web Page.

NCAKE Workshop - September 26, 2015


Recent HNU graduates Catherine Cheng, Minami Cohen and Conway Tan will present engaging new materials from Asia for use in American classrooms. The workshop will highlight an accessible collection of songs and singing games from the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia and China and include pedagogical connections.

Eleanor G. Locke Music Resource Center


Holy Names University announces the renaming of the Kodály Music Resource Center in honor of its creator, Eleanor G. "Toni" Locke, who passed away in February, 2015. From 1974-1985, Toni served as archivist in the Kodály Program, where she oversaw the collection, selection and analysis of songs for use in music classrooms across the United States. During that time, students and faculty in the program helped to gather, transcribe and index 2500 songs from print and recorded sources, creating the American Folk Songs for Teaching collection. This collection was recognized as an archive by the Library of Congress in 1983, and provided the basis for this website.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Music Resource Center in honor of Toni, please visit the HNU website, or email laskey@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

2015 HNU Kodaly Summer Institute June 29 - July 17

3/13/2015

Holy Names University's Kodaly Summer Institute offers an introduction to Kodaly philosophy, including musicianship training, conducting, curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, and materials for teaching. Course work within the institute can be applied towards the Master's Degree in Music Education or Kodaly Summer Certification. Classes meet daily, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Faculty: Judit Hartyanyi, Anne Laskey, Nancy Linford, Helene Matters, Gail Needleman, Ildiko Salgado, Fran Smith.

Special Session: Solfege and Sonority, with David Xiques. June 29 - July 2, 1:00pm - 4:30pm.

The Institute choral concert will take place on Friday, July 17 at 7:30pm and is free to the public. For more information, email laskey@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

Welcome to our new website!

9/22/2014

Our new website was made possible by the generosity of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It is a late stage beta, which means there might be one or two things that behave differently than we expect. If you find one, please write the developer at lrlarson (at) larsonassoc.org. Also, we intend to add an entirely new Recources section that will offer specific curricula geared toward specific gades very soon.

Please add your email address at the link below so that we can send you updates as well as the general announcement email (when it is ready) that will detail all the improvements in the site.

NCAKE Workshop with Christopher Roberts

September 27, 2014

Christopher Roberts, teacher of K-5 classroom music and of teacher training classes in Seattle, Washington, will offer pedagogical tools and a variety of sources and materials to craft world music listening lessons, with examples from Botswana, Turkey, and other countries. He will also teach several singing games from around the world, ready for classroom use, and aimed at thoughtfully developing students’ musicianship while expanding their cultural understanding. Participants will learn specific steps for creating effective listening experiences from other parts of the world.

Holy Names University, VCPA, Studio Theater, 9:30am – 1:00pm

For more information, visit The NCAKE Web Page.

46th HNU Kodaly Summer Institute - July 7-26, 2014

June 1, 2014

Holy Names University's Kodaly Summer Institute offers an introduction to Kodaly philosophy, including musicianship training, conducting, curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, and materials for teaching. Course work within the institute can be applied towards the Master's Degree in Music Education or Kodaly Summer Certification. Classes meet daily, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Faculty: Gemma Arguelles, Helga Dietrich, Judit Hartyanyi, Anne Laskey, Helene Matters, Gail Needleman, Ildiko Salgado, Fran Smith. A Kodaly alumni reunion is planned for July 24-26. The choral concert which concludes the institute will take place on Saturday, July 26 at 7:30pm and is free to the public. For more information, email laskey@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

New Grant for Website Upgrade Announced

March 1, 2014

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Grant has granted the Kodaly Center for Music Education at Holy Names University $75,000 to upgrade its online American Folk Song Collection. The grant will be utilized to create a newly designed website that allows users to access the site using a wide range of platforms, including desktop computers, tablets, and phones. It also provides funding to increase the number of songs currently on the site. The new site will be available in early 2014. To read more, go to http://www.hnu.edu/news/category/kodaly-center.

44th HNU Kodaly Summer Institute - July 8-27, 2012

July 1, 2012

Holy Names University's Kodaly Summer Institute offers an introduction to Kodaly philosophy, including musicianship training, conducting, curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, and materials for teaching. Course work within the institute can be applied towards Kodaly Summer Certification, the Master's Degree in Music Education, or the Kodaly Specialist Certificate. Classes meet daily, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Faculty: Judit Hartyanyi, Helga Dietrich, Anne Laskey, Helene Matters, Lydia Mills, Gail Needleman, Fran Smith.
Early Childhhood Music Workshops with Helga Dietrich: Stepping Stones - A General Squence of Music Development, 7/14 & 7/21, Education and Creativity, 7/16 - 7/20.
For more information, click here
You may also email laskey@hnu.edu or call 510-436-1314.

NCAKE Workshop with Jennifer Cooper and Anne Laskey - March 31, 2012

March 1, 2012

Perspectives on Developing Curriculum
Saturday, March 31, 9:30 am - 1:00 pm
Holy Names University, Bay Vista Room, 3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, CA
NCAKE's own Anne Laskey and Jennifer Cooper present an exciting workshop on curriculum devleopment. Anne's session will present a curriculum for grades 1 and 2 based on a Hungarian curriculum which includes 7 categories: song, musical element, skill development, textbook reference, listening, additional materials and games. This curriculum is being implemented in San Jose Jazz's Progressions Project, and video from the project will be featured. Jennifer will present the curriculum she developed for the San Francisco Boys Chorus, a literacy program for choristers from K through 6th grade inspired by Erzsebet Hegyi's Solfege According to the Kodaly Concept, and describe the process of its development and implementation. Materials will include a one year plan, evaluation templates and processes, and resource list.
For more information, click here.

NCAKE Workshop with Betty Hillmon - January 28, 2012

Jamuary 1, 2012

Music of the Georgia Sea Islands: Revisiting Bessie Jones & African-European/African American Composers in the Western Classical Tradition
Saturday, January 28, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Malcolm X Elementary School, 1731 Prince Street, Berkeley, CA
The folk music legacy left to us by Miss Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers continues to be rich with songs and ring games that are exciting, fun and educational. When taught in the correct style and with historical context, these materials hold the interest of students and improve their social and musical skills. In this session, participants will learn songs and games of the Georgia Sea Islands and discuss the meanings and social settings for these materials. A shorter segment of this session will be a lesser known but rich legacy of music available for use in the classroom - classical music composed by African-European and African-American composers. Ms. Hillmon is Department Head of Music at the Park School in Brookline, MA. She holds a B.A. in Music from San Jose State University, an M.A. in Music Performance from Fresno State University, an M.A. in Musicology from Harvard University, and a Kodaly Music Education Certificate from the Liszt Academy, Budapest, Hungary.
For more information, click here.

“I’m Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad”: Song of the Month – July/2022

Juy 1, 2022

I’m Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad was sung by Gussie Ward Stone in 1940 at the FSA Camp in Arvin, CA. It forms part of the Library of Congress’s Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Workers Collection. Their work was part of the WPA project to document conditions in the camps established to house refugees from the Great Depression and the droughts that led to the Dust Bowl. While this is not the earliest recording of this song, it was collected before Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan popularized it.