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Education/Outreach: Grades 5-8

Grades K-4 | Grades 5-8 | Grades 9-12

All of the music presented could potentially be used for performance and the teaching of music fundamentals. For example, pieces in the Ragtime Collection could be used to expose students to this style of American popular music. Students could be taught to identify differences between the syncopation of ragtime music, art songs of European tradition, or various dance forms, relating the material to different historical and cultural traditions. Students could read, sing, or play from these pieces of sheet music, using topical areas of interest as motivation. See the themes below for ideas on selecting or programming music for performance. Additional materials will be posted in the future to assist the teacher in finding specific songs to use in the area of music fundamentals.

Several pieces of sheet music reflect state pride through using Colorado emblems and symbols in their texts and cover art. They might be a useful aid in teaching state facts and reinforcing Colorado's heritage. A listing of Colorado's emblems and facts is available from the Colorado State Archives website.

State Song: "Where the Columbines Grow" by A.J. Fynn (Colorado Collection) was adopted as the official state song on May 8, 1915. An MP3 Audio file of the song is also available from the Colorado State Archives website. The song is probably within the performance abilities of students in grades 5-8.


State Flower: The illustrations and texts of the following songs focus on the columbine, the state flower. Denver's own musician Henry Houseley composed "Sweet Columbine" (Colorado Collection) in the early 1920s. An earlier example is "Just a Little Spray of Columbine" (Ingram Collection) from 1905.

Two main themes of the Colorado Collection's music are the state's beauty and history. The following two songs offer a musical introduction to the discussion not only of Colorado's natural beauty, but also to the exploration and development of the state.

Pike's Peak: An 1893 expedition to Pike's Peak inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write her most famous poem, "America the Beautiful." Set to music by Samuel A. Ward, this song has become one of our nation's most beloved patriotic songs. Bates' Colorado inspiration is a source of state pride. The music is readily available in most general music textbooks. Click on the link above for a four-part choral arrangement.


"Old Pike's Peak" (Colorado Collection) is a less known song inspired by the same mountain. Its cover and music depicts the excitement felt nationwide regarding this new, previously unknown terrain.


"Our President Roosevelt's Colorado Hunt" (Colorado Collection) from 1908 relates in music one of Theodore Roosevelt's many hunting trips in the West. This song could be used as an introduction to Roosevelt's role in creating the National Forest System, including the Roosevelt National Forest, or conservation of the state in general. See also "When Teddy Hits the West" (Western Trails Collection) for another example.

Several songs about other states in the West could be used to make geography lessons for young students a bit more exciting.

"All Hail California" (Western Trails Collection)


"Ida-Ho!" (Western Trails Collection)


"Oregon My Oregon" (Western Trails Collection) Oregon's Official State Song

African Americans, Native Americans, Creoles, and other minorities have all been portrayed in biased ways in published media. Sheet music is no exception. A lesson on the stereotyped portrayals of some ethnic groups could be enhanced by sheet music illustrations from this collection. Numerous pieces in the Ragtime Collection have cover illustrations which can be used as examples, while others also have lyrics that demonstrate the prejudices against various ethnic groups in history.* While this is important for every grade level to help students learn to avoid bias, appropriate pieces should be selected carefully for younger students. The following are a few examples:

"Jim Crow Rag" (Rag Collection)


"Eskimo Rag" (Rag Collection)


"Creole Belles" (Song version) (Rag Collection)


"Tony: The Cowboy Whop" (Western Trails Collection)

* The sheet music on this site is presented as a part of the historical record. The topics, illustrations, and language reflect the attitudes and beliefs of earlier times. The University of Colorado does not endorse the views expressed in these collections that may contain materials that are offensive to some readers.

The following songs portray famous Western icons Casey Jones and Jesse James in music. Liebert and Newton's 1909 song on American railroad engineer Casey Jones became a popular vaudeville hit. The song about notorious outlaw Jesse James was written by F. Henri Klickmann who also composed several popular pieces. Both combine history and legend with music to enhance the study of these famous Westerners.

"Casey Jones: The Brave Engineer" (Western Trails Collection)
"Jesse James" (Western Trails Collection)

More possibilities to enhance history and social studies lessons, including Western expansion, manifest destiny, and life in the West.

"The Pony Express" (Western Trails Collection)


"Out Where the West Begins" (Western Trails Collection)


"To the West" (Western Trails Collection)