Google Earth as a tool for teaching World Music

World music is the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts.  One of the challenges in the elementary and middle school music classroom is to teach students about music as defined by location (position on the Earth’s surface), place (natural and cultural characteristics), and relationships within places (humans and their environments).  The solution is not to teach students a series of disconnected facts about music and geography of the world.  Students should understand that absolute and relative locations are significant aspects of every natural and cultural feature on the planet.

The overarching goal of this website is to show how Google Earth can be used by music educators to strengthen the connections between location, culture, and music.  This is done through a collection of Google Earth files appropriate for music classroom instruction and student engagement.  Within these Google Earth files, audio clips, photos, videos, and cultural information have been placed in a customized interface.  The customized placemarks are anchored to locations that represent a particular cultural style of music and contain additional information provided by Google Earth, such as 3D representations of buildings, museum tours, and interactive street views.  By enhancing the presentation of music styles and their cultures with satellite imagery and aerial photography, students will be better prepared to understand the geospatial context of cultural diversity and increase their understanding of people through sound.

This project has been developed by faculty, staff, and students at The Pennsylvania State University (University Park and Brandywine campuses).