Music is the heart beat of the world, and a type of art that transcends all cultural differences. People from all walks of life come together to enjoy music during concerts, festivals and works of art. On a regular basis, music is the backdrop of activity. Students hoping to learn about music will enjoy gaining information on the history, cultural effects, genres and notable contributions to music. These contributions are continuous, but going back to the beginning provides a foundation to learning music.
The creation of music dates back to prehistoric times, as archaeologists have unearthed drums, pipes and other instruments that set the tone for instruments still used today. The history of music has been divided into significant eras, including ancient music, medieval music, the renaissance, classical era and romantic era. Each era is noted for its style of music, which commonly reflects the tone of society at that time. Music has always reflected life, and a glance at its history exemplifies that point.
American Popular Song: A Brief History – George Mason University offers a brief history on the development of songs in America.
Music from the Middle Ages to the Present – The Internet Public Library discusses the key eras in music history, including the Middle Ages, the Baroque era and Twentieth Century.
American Library of Congress Music Resources – The American Library of Congress features resources on music from a variety of eras, which shaped history.
Middle Ages Music – This site features a thorough breakdown of music of the Middle Ages and its influence on Europe.
Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments - The school provides a thorough review and examples of popular musical instruments during the Renaissance and Medieval times.
Bone Flute from China – This library provides information on the oldest known musical instruments.
Without question, eras are defined by the musicians who paved the way. Regardless of era or genre, music history students can point to an influential artist who set trends that were followed. One cannot study music without studying the lives of famous musicians. Some contributed with instruments, while others lent their voice.
100 Greatest Artists – This piece lists a thorough review of the 100 greatest musicians of all time.
Society for 17th Century Music – This organization profiles famous artists who shaped the Baroque era.
16th Century Composers – This page is a resource for students studying 16th century music. It profiles a list of composers who shaped the Renaissance era.
Chronological Listing of Music Composers – A comprehensive list of famous composers and artists, from 600 CE to 1663.
Jazz Musicians – This piece lists the 10 best jazz musicians.
Classical music is widely considered the foundation for modern music. Classical composers are revered as some of the best ever to lay hands to an instrument, and people who take voice and piano lessons typically receive a strong base in classical music. Classical composers stem back to the Renaissance era, which ranged from 1400 to 1600, and include contemporary classical artists, who gained notoriety in the 20th century and beyond. These composers have played a large role in shaping the history of music.
The Greatest – The New York Times offers a list of the 10 greatest classical composers of all time.
Introduction to Composers and Their Works – This classical music site features chronological lists, composer timelines and bios of the best musicians.
Classical Composers' Archive – This site contains classical composer information from musicians of every era and nation.
52 Composers – Music students can browse profiles, music samples and information from the greatest classical composers.
Teaching Kids about Music
Studies indicate that children involved in music test higher and have an easier time learning. Playing classical music while studying has also been shown to improve focus and clarity. Parents should strive to introduce their children to music from an early age, so that they gain an appreciation for it. Whether the child hopes to play an instrument or just learn more about the art form, these resources are valuable.
Children's Music Resources for Teachers – A number of columns to help parents and teachers reach children with music.
Teaching Ideas Musical Elements – This site features a number of fun exercises and games to help children learn music.
Children's Music Portal – A number of resources for teachers and parents.
Resources for Music Educators – A large number of music resources for teaching children everything from band lessons to classical composer history can be found here.
Resources for music for pets - The history of pet music is showcased and explained in detail.
No matter what type of music a person enjoys, there is something for everybody. Genres tend to give birth to other genres, and continuously progress throughout the years. Each genre features stark characteristics and traits that make them unique. Students should become familiar with the popular genres which have been mainstays over the course of music history.
BBC Music – This site features a number of music genres.
The First Jazz Records – This site contains information on the earliest jazz records.
The Birth of Rap – This article contains audio samples and articles detailing the birth of rap.
The Birth of Country Music – The center details the birth and roots of country music.
Brief History of Anthem, Spiritual, and Gospel Music – This site traces the history of gospel music.
History of Heavy Metal – Music students are given a glimpse of heavy metal history, which spans centuries.
Music Genres List – This site details the roots of pop music.
The Birth of Blues – PBS gives a thorough and comprehensive history of blues music.
When discussing musical genres, one must look at the instruments used. Certain music genres are noteworthy because of their heavy use of a certain instrument. Instruments are broken into certain categories, including percussion, brass, woodwind and string. When studying music history, gaining an understanding of the instruments is essential.
The Museum of Musical Instruments – The museum provides detailed articles and analysis of instruments throughout history.
Musical Instruments – This site features details on each major musical instrument group.
Historic Instruments – The site by The Met, features information on musical instruments.
Instrument Groupings – This site discusses instruments of the classical era.
Strange Instruments – This article details the strangest instruments of all time.
History of Music and Musical Instruments – This site contains detailed history of musical instruments.
Exploring the Evolution of Musical Instruments – This piece explores the evolution of musical instruments including how war, resources and more determined instrument invention.
Reed Instrument History – Readers will learn about primitive free reed instruments.