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Center for
Lifelong Music Making
Affirming Parallel Concepts (APC)

APC is using singing and playing singing games
to practice reading and math skills

Based on Dr. Elizabeth Olson's PhD Dissertation-->


It is the right of every child to be handed the key with which to enter the locked world of reading. Singing enables the brain for language acquisition and reading.    

Singing is a primary source for learning.

  • Singing activates more areas of the brain than any other activity.
  • Singing and playing singing games attracts and enlivens children, boosts vitality, fights disease, enhances lung capacity, and builds memory.
  • Keeping a steady beat is highly correlated with reading achievement.
  • Daily singing in classrooms raises reading and math achievement.

Singing games create community.

  • Singing and playing singing games create a positive classroom climate.
  • Singing together promotes social cohesion among diverse cultures.
  • Spirit of a people/culture that is passed on for generations

Folk songs are building blocks for the brain.

  • Simple, basic, easily-sung patterns of sound that are retained in the brain
  • Marriage between text and melody = emotional engagement with language
  • Stories with pitch develop aural/oral language, expression, vocabulary, and fluency



Daily Singing
Classroom teachers choose when to sing: during morning meeting, during transitions, while moving down the hall to lunch, during fluency practice time, etc. 

Teachers learn to start a song using a pitch pipe so that the pitches of the song stay within the comfortable range of students’ voices (no lower than middle C for young children).

Leading Songs
Classroom teachers teach students songs without accompaniment to develop competence in singing in-tune and keeping a steady beat. During an APC course, teachers receive a private vocal coaching session to enable them to understand their own voice, how to use it well, and be confident singing with students.

Learning By Ear
Teachers transmit songs as they have traditionally been handed down—by ear.

APC Lessons
Using traditional chants, folk songs, and singing games, teachers create their own lessons to practice reading and math skills. During an APC course, teachers teach their lessons to their peers and share videos of their students accomplishing an APC lesson.

APC Lesson Examples
Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar? Video
Using each others' names, students keep the beat with a pat-clap pattern. Then, the teacher adapts it to, "Who stole the ___ (a number) from the cookie jar?" Each student chooses among their cards with numbers 1-10 and holds the called number up. Use with letter names, letter sounds, sight words, fractions, etc.

Circle Round the Zero Video
One student walks around the outside of a circle of children (the zero), finds a partner, and together they do the motions of the game; then the first student takes the place of the chosen one, and the game begins again. Extend the game to practice circling around the ___ (a different number, letter, or letter sound. Could also practice math facts by having everyone hold a number card and then multiply the circling student’s card with the chosen student’s card; everyone sings the answer.

Skip to my Lou
Sing the story song over and over while choosing new partners. Another day, the class reads together the illustrated folk song book, "Skip to my Lou," so that students match the visual symbols for words with the story they have already memorized.  Another day, students create their own new rhyming verses.

This Land is Your Land (or any other folk song)
After the song is memorized, students read it together on a screen. Another day, they sing the same song again while reading the words at a faster tempo. Then, the teacher covers up a few words.  As students sing-read the song, they are silent on the covered up words (can also just tell them aurally which words to omit).

Contact Ann Kay