In 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way and in my classroom, I use songs from the public domain for many reasons:
- I want to teach my students to respect intellectual property laws. While my orchestra is playing “Pirates of the Caribbean,” I explained to them that I bought that piece. I did not steal it.
- Public domain songs teach our common American heritage of folk music. We have become a multicultural society; learning these songs is a nice way for newcomers to learn our heritage. I have many immigrants in my classroom. It’s also a great way to support English language learners.
- These songs are classic and many are timelessly funny.
- Many great composers have quoted folk music throughout time. After all, Mozart wrote variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
- These songs also tend to have appropriate lyrics for all age learners
What Are Public Domain Songs?
These are songs which are not protected by copyright or intellectual property laws. Songs can be in the public domain in several ways:
- the copyright has expired,
- the copyright owner placed it in the public domain, through dedication or copyright abandonment, or
- the song never had rights applied to it, for instance because it predates intellectual property laws.