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Best Instructional Videos: History of Music

March is Music in Our Schools Month, and a number of free videos can give students everything from a broad overview to the history of a specific musical genre. We highlight the best below. For each video, we include a description and grade level. We also note the video’s capacity for engagement (“cool factor”). 

Need more for Music Month? Don’t miss EducationWorld’s Music Lessons for Every Grade. High-school students also will enjoy the lesson What is Hip-Hop?

Music Melody: A History of the Evolution of Music (1928-2012)

Source:  Posted by an individual YouTube user

Grade level:  6-12

Run time:  14:02

Description:  This short video takes you through over 80 songs and 70 years focusing on “how our music is produced, organized and enjoyed depending on the time period at hand,” according to the description on YouTube. The video is not the highest quality, but it is thorough, and it moves quickly, given the considerable information crammed into under 15 minutes.

Cool factor:  It’s hard to make anything that starts in the 1920s all that cool, but the video does evoke the grandeur of a bygone era.


Music Remains: A History of Recorded Music in 90 Seconds

Source:  IFPI

Grade level:  K-12

Run time:  1:29 (despite the title)

Description:  A race through time filmed at London’s world-famous Abbey Road studios, the video depicts a Rube Goldberg Machine that shows music at the heart of the story of one family.

Cool factor:  It’s not a true music history lesson, but it is very cool and engaging.


Music History: The General History of Music from 1600-Present

Source:  Furmanczyk Academy of Music

Grade level:  9-12

Run time:  32:51

Description:  Don’t feel like lecturing yourself? Play this video and step aside as it takes your students through an abridged history of music.

Cool factor:  This one’s strictly academic, and the presenter is not the most polished. The video does, however, offer interesting facts.


History of Rap 5

Source:  The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon

Grade level:  9-12

Run time:  5:32

Description:  Justin Timberlake joins Jimmy Fallon to present part five in their entertaining “history of rap” series. The other four parts also can be found on YouTube. Challenge your students to identify all the songs and artists they hear in this medley-style performance.

Cool factor:  Very high—it is probably not possible to show something in a classroom that your average high-school student would find cooler. 


Article by Daniel B. Kline, EducationWorld Contributing Editor
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