Brianne Gidcumb | April 2015

Purposeful Pathways: A Review

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a great resource for the general music classroom over the past couple of months. As an elementary general music teacher, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of materials and cost involved in some of the great resources available. When seeing large classes only twice a week for twenty-five minutes at a time, I look for resources that are focused, manageable, and affordable. I believe that Purposeful Pathways, by Roger Sams and BethAnn Hepburn, is that.


Purposeful Pathways is available in two volumes. The first volume is a collection of thirty-one lessons focusing on rhythmic concepts of quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes, and quarter rests, in addition to melodic concepts of so, mi, la, and do. The second volume, which includes thirty-six lessons, explores do pentatonic melodic concepts. As well as, rhythmic concepts of quarter, eighth, half, dotted half, sixteenth, and whole notes, as well as quarter, half, and whole rests.

The collection contains familiar folk songs and incorporates Kodály, Orff, and Dalcroze pedagogy. Centered on these folk songs, each lesson is structured to allow teachers to follow various “pathways” to meet their needs and the needs of their students.


Each lesson in this collection is based on a folk song and incorporates Kodály, Orff, and Dalcroze pedagogy. Every lesson is focused on specified rhythmic and a melodic concepts and is organized by “pathways” to various musical elements. A single lesson for “Cobbler, Cobbler” focuses on the rhythmic concepts of quarter and eighth notes as well as melodic concepts of so and mi.

The lesson contains various “pathways” that can be followed by the teacher: a pathway to rhythm, in which students prepare 4-beat rhythm patterns, a pathway to rhythmic literacy, in which students decode quarter and eighth note rhythms, a pathway to melodic literacy, in which students read a so-mi melody in solfa from an accompanying electronic visual aid, a pathway to ensemble, in which students transfer their performance of steady beat to a chord bordun on bass Orff instruments, a pathway to improvisation, in which students improvise 4-beat rhythm patterns on woodblock as part of a larger Orff ensemble.

Various “pathways” that are explored throughout the lessons include: pulse, play, rhythm, literacy, partwork, form, ensemble, pitch, improvisation, composition, timbre exploration, creative movement, singing, folk dance, orchestration, meter, instrumental technique, and vocal exploration.


The resource includes visuals and manipulatives, which are reproducible in Book One and provided on a CD-ROM in Book Two.

In addition to the included visual materials, there are electronic resources available for purchase, with a SMART Board file to accompany each lesson. These SMART Board files are simply outlined to provide visual representations of the melodic and rhythmic concepts in each lesson.

You can find a sample lesson from Purposeful Pathways, Book One, here, and you can purchase Purposeful Pathways resources at West Music. Check it out!

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: