Using Music to Make History More Engaging

Project Abstract Finding a way to make social studies content more engaging and relevant for high school students today is a challenge. Adding to this challenge has been an erosion of social studies coverage during the elementary and middle years over the past decade due to educational and economic crises. The arts programs have been impacted as well, despite research, which indicates a correlation between music exposure and reading and mathematical readiness, as well as language acquisition. Using music as the vehicle with which to teach history, as noted by an elective called, “A Socio-Political History of Rock and Roll”, promises to engage students in their learning by making content relevant to their lives. This elective course serves as a companion to a required U.S. History class in that it examines the social and political upheavals that took place between 1950-2000 as seen through the lens of the musicians of the time. This course also focuses heavily on the various civil rights movements during the 1950’s-1970’s and issues of social justice, and highlights the significance of oral history. In addition to addressing Common Core State Standards for History and Social Studies in the areas of reading and writing literacy, this course is also aligned with Social Justice and Equity Standards that were written specifically for this class. This course illustrates the ease with which music can be added to make history more engaging to students.