Kodály Center Awarded Library of Congress Grant

The Teaching with Primary Sources grant will enrich HNU’s free online resource with folk songs from Native Americans, early Spanish settlers, and more recent immigrants.

OAKLAND, CA (May 21, 2018) – Holy Names University faculty members Anne Laskey and Gail Needleman and HNU’s Kodály Center for Music Education have received a Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) grant from the Library of Congress. The grant, from the TPS Western Regional Center, will fund Folk Songs of the Western United States: Building a Unique Resource for Teachers. This hands-on research project at the Library of Congress will result in the addition of over 100 songs from 16 Western states to HNU’s online American Folk Song Collection (http://kodaly.hnu.edu/). Songs chosen will represent the many peoples who have contributed to the culture of the West, from Native Americans to the early Spanish settlers to the many immigrant cultures who followed from around the world.

“Most folk song collectors in the United States worked in the Eastern half of the country, and quality materials from the West are difficult to find in either print or recorded sources,” explained Anne Laskey, former Director of HNU’s Kodály Center. “This TPS project will serve teachers who wish to present folk songs from the Western U.S. to their students, as well as anyone interested in sharing and preserving our diverse cultural heritage.

Teaching with Primary Sources is the Library of Congress’s premier educational program, focused on helping educators enhance students’ skills and knowledge using primary sources from the Library’s collections.

The HNU online American Folk Song Collection (AFSC) is a unique, free resource of folk songs representing a wide spectrum of the geographic and cultural populations of the United States. Each song has been selected for its beauty, suitability for teaching and musical versatility. All songs in the collection include lyrics, a musical score and song analysis showing how it can be used to develop musical and cultural understanding.

The AFSC website also includes field recordings, historical and cultural background and game directions and currently features more than 560 songs, including 140 from the Library of Congress. Teachers can search for songs by grade level, subject, song type, state, region, origin, musical characteristics and any combination thereof. The online collection was created from HNU’s original collection of American Folk Songs for Teaching, developed over 35 years by faculty and students at the Kodály Center. In 1984, this original collection was recognized as a folk song archive by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

In 2000, Laskey and Needleman received an award from the Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund for Ethnography at the Library of Congress to research and transcribe historical field recordings in the LOC Archive of Folk Culture. These recordings form the heart of the online AFSC, created by noted arts website producer Larry Larson. Launched in 2004 with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, it quickly became the premier site for American folk music.

Since its inception, this website has gained international acclaim and is used by tens of thousands of music educators across the country and around the world.

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