For Teachers: The American Songbook Season One Lesson Plan Series

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  • Overview Lesson
  • Episode 1 Lessons
  • Episode 2 Lessons
  • Episode 3 Lessons

Overview Lesson Plan
The American Songbook

The lesson focuses on the term “popular music.” Students generally think that this refers to “their music.” The introductory lesson broadens the student’s concept of the term.
Grades 5–8
1 Lesson plus Materials

First Episode Lesson Plans
Putting on the Tail Fins (1950s–1960s)

Building on the “popular music” concept in the Overview, students will discover the broadening gap between adults and teens brought about by Rock-n-Roll. Instrumentation and arrangement play a large part in this unit, as does structural analysis.
Grades 5–8
4 Lessons Plus Materials

Second Episode Lesson Plans
Best Band in the Land (1940s)

Popular music succeeded in unifying America during World War II. Students will explore how the music of this era helped bolster the spirits of our nation, blurred “color lines” in a time of segregation, and painted a mood with melody and words for those in battle, and those at home waiting for their safe return.
Grades 5–8
3 Lessons Plus Materials

Third Episode Lesson Plans
A New Step Every Day (1920s–early 1930s)

Just as popular music unified our nation during the war, the music of the Depression era created an avenue for escape from the worries of the day. Students will analyze how humorous lyrics, catchy melodies and fast-paced rhythms created a sense of merriment, allowing a stressed population to relax.
Grades 5–8
3 Lessons Plus Materials

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The 3 part PBS Series
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