Ever since a two month road trip through New Zealand when I was ten years old, I’ve loved geography and day dreaming about far away places. As a teenager, I dreamed about becoming a songwriter and read every book in the library on the subject. A few years ago I was approached to write geography learning songs and I was beyond thrilled. It was a chance to combine my two loves.
To do the job well, I knew the songs had to be highly functional, leading the listener to actually learn, and musically harmonious, allowing the listener to easily sing along. Here’s how I incorporated both these goals:
- Countries in geographical order – Songs sing through the countries in the order they appear on a map. As the student sings, he/she can point to a map and move the finger to each country as its sung. As a result, students learn both country name and proper placement.
- Small groupings – Each song highlights no more than seven countries to aid memorization.
- Geographical context – Most songs feature lyrics that offer context regarding the location of the region and/or its global significance.
- Geographical terminology – General geographical terminology is inserted throughout the songs, ie. isthmus, as well as specific landmarks, ie, Lake Titicaca, to spark conversations and further study.
- Diverse musical themes – Each song is inspired by the region highlighted resulting in diverse melodies, harmonies, and rhythms throughout the collection to keep the ear engaged.
- Simple accompaniment – Each track is produced without melodic accompaniment to accentuate lyrics and country pronunciation.
- Repetition – Most songs feature repetition of the countries as well as the region name to help listeners pick up on the place names and practice singing along.
This project resulted in Geography Songs for Everyone. It has been a blessing to my home school co-op and my own children, so I make these songs available for free on my website and YouTube Channel.
To download and store to your device, visit my Geography Songs for Everyone Store.
Below is a sampling from Geography Songs for Everyone: World and US States and Capitals. You can watch all of the videos ad-free from my website here.
This song is relaxed and groovy as if you’re on a tropical beach swinging your hips to a steel drum band. I admit I could never remember all the Lesser Antilles before I wrote this song. But now they are firmly cemented into my mind.
Asian Geography, Mainland Southeast Asia
In high school my sister and I were flipping through the channels on the TV. We stopped at the channel that usually featured southeast asian soap operas. On the screen was a little boy, pumping water from a well and singing a song. We had no idea what he was saying, but we were both charmed by the melody. This song is inspired by that melody.
Asian Geography, East Asia
I struggled with writing the first version of this song. I wanted to evoke K-Pop, the high energy, pop music from South Korea. Well, this first version wasn’t working and went in the trash.The next day, I woke up with this energetic beat and melody running through my head.
Asian Geography, Middle East of the Arabian Peninsula
This is one of my personal favorites. It has a great beat, confidence and determination, like the region itself.
European Geography, Eastern Europe Part 1
In writing these learning songs I split larger regions into smaller pieces for memorization purposes. Eastern Europe is an example. This melody has a level of drama, inspired by the regions recent history. But, to me it is still energetic, strong and optimistic. I have a neighbor who fled Romania decades ago and she speaks of her homeland this way.
Horn of Africa
I smile when I listen to this song. It is so earnestly enthusiastic about the horn of Africa that it’s contagious! It’s also cool that the term “landmass projection” is in the chorus.
US Geography, Southern States
This song is relaxed and friendly like the region itself. It has a slight bluesy, jazzy feel inspired by the region’s musical contributions. It was fun to write and record.