Age range: High school
Estimated Time: Each podcast is less than 15 minutes long, so the three together will take less than an hour.
Key Technology: You will need speakers (or headphones) and QuickTime or iTunes.
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A trio of podcasts tell the most exciting parts of the history of classical music in America, from the earliest colonial beginnings to the present. While the general sweep of events is made clear, the focus is on interesting stories that most listeners will find surprising. Music clips enliven the presentation.
Use the Perfect Pitch interactive microsite to learn more about the instruments of the Western orchestra. Listen again to the podcasts and list the instruments you hear.
For the Educator
This podcast discusses interesting aspects of the history of classical music in the United States, from the 18th to the 20th century, in three segments.
The first segment examines classical music in the 1700s and the early 1800s. From the New England School to the Moravians of North Carolina to the multicultural society of New Orleans, American music is illuminated. The podcast uses clips of music and interviews with musical history experts to present the surprising details of American classical music.
The second segment continues with the evolution of New Orleans as a center of classical music in America. The segment discusses the rise of traveling bands, the effect of the Civil War, and the increasing importance of – and influence of – folk music. We learn, too, about the ways in which American music influenced European music.
The third segment traces the development of a uniquely American style of classical music and the emergence of the United States as a force in global culture. The podcast also examines the sometimes underappreciated importance of African-Americans and Hollywood on American classical music.
Prior Knowledge and Preparation
Listeners with a fair background in U.S. History and geography will get the most from this resource.
Suggested activities will require the use of bulletin board paper or chart paper.
There is no visual element for this item. Some people find it difficult to concentrate without visual or tactile input. To help students focus while listening, consider one or more of these activities:
- Prepare a three-section Venn diagram on chart paper or bulletin board paper to compare and contrast the three podcasts, each of which covers a different time period. Label them “18th-19th centuries,” “19th-20th centuries,” and “20th-21st centuries.” Listen a second time, stopping and starting the recording as needed to complete the graphic organizers.
- Divide into groups, giving each group a region of the United States. Have groups listen for information relevant to their regions and record what they hear on chart paper. Students may need to activate prior knowledge to identify relevant information, and may also need to use knowledge of history and critical thinking to extrapolate from what they hear. Have each group, or each student, write a paragraph encapsulating what they‘ve learned about their region.
- Have all students quickly sketch out illustrations as they listen. Then, as a group, choose pictures to use to create a mural on bulletin board paper showing the span of classical music in America from the 18th through the 2oth centuries. Work together on the mural through repeated listening to the podcasts, or to the pieces of music featured in the podcasts.