Stage 1: Preparation

Researching young people's popular culture requires very little effort. However, you must become 'conscious researchers', looking for various influences, styles and characteristics that could be used when exploring issues/subjects with young people.

I normally begin a class/workshop by casually asking the young people about their favourite music artists, why these are favoured and the particular websites, radio/TV stations they enjoy. Then I analyse young people's particular music styles with a view to finding what is appropriate for use in my lesson/workshop planning. My filtering technique looks at the various age groups and the context of the school or youth organisation. I'm more cautious about the selection of music for use with very young groups, say from 10-15 years of age. In addition, I look at various references to censorship labels and lyrical content. Before using this kind of material in the class, I will usually advise those in charge that I may be dealing with 'real world' issues.

I consider the preparation stage very enlightening, good fun, and a constantly challenging process of trial and error which can result in great learning.

'Tim's Top Tips':

Below, I recommend internet websites that could be helpful in preparing a lesson/workshop which utilises popular music:

  • - I find that this is a good site for a general overview of the various up-to-date styles and variety of music videos today. In Ireland you will also be given the choice of I find that the has the added value of searching for an artist/band on the homepage which then lists all you need to know about that popular artist/band.
  • - focussed on the educational dimension of hip-hop culture
  • - a U.S organisation focused on using hip-hop music and culture as a learning tool within education
  • - a good resource based in Dublin that uses "DJ" culture as a tool to connect with young people and offer a positive learning development experience
  • - a good filtering channel when looking at music for younger audiences
  • - "Hip Hop in the Classroom". This website is a great resource for the novice educator wishing to utilise popular culture in their workshop/class - including "Shakespeare is Hip Hop"
  • - focuses specifically on using music as a tool to engage with young people

Editor's note - see also: and which look at Hip Hop from a 'world music' perspective. for a huge array of materials by most artists.