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Music and Healing in Philadelphia

Seminar Leader:
Carol Muller


There were two parts to this class: in the first we explored ways in which music has been used for social-emotional healing, building resilience in the face of adversity, and individual and collective well-being. We read on music, the brain, and emotion; and thought about the impact of adversity, and the work of music and creativity as vehicles of restoration and healing. In the second part, we focused on a particular moment in Philadelphia’s music history: Philly Soul and the Philadelphia International Record (PIR) label that created the genre in the 1970s. Philly Soul emerged in conversation with Motown in Detroit and was the brainchild of two young black men: a student from West Philly High School, Kenny Gamble, and the Camden born Leonard Huff. PIR earned many Grammys and put the city on the map both for the music and the message of social justice in its lyrics. We listened to that music, read, and learned about one piece of Philadelphia’s rich black music history from some of those involved in creating the music, a story rarely told or taught in the School District of Philadelphia.

Unit TitleAuthor


Soundtrack to Our Class: Reading, Writing, and Speaking about Music

Emma Connolly
Keywords: Middle School, English Language Arts, Identity, figurative language, theme, writing, social-emotional learning, Reading, community building

Hip Hop Hope: Unlocking English Language Learning with Rhythms and Rhymes

Rebecca Horner
Keywords: movement, Music, hip-hop, healing, brain, Color Vowel Approach

Songs in the Key of MY Life

Nicole Flores
Keywords: Morning Meeting, lyrics, literacy, Music, The Brain, Socio-emotional Learning, Playlists

What Happens When High School Students Study the Role of Trauma in Black Art

Geoffrey Winikur
Keywords: Music, hip-hop, generational trauma, Trauma, white supremacy, racial violence, Black Art, Black Lives Matter, brain science

Music and Art Are Healing: Neurographic Art in the Classroom

Ms. Allison Aubry, M.ED
Keywords: meditative doodling, Music, neuro art, healing, Neurographic art, The Sound of Philadelphia, Art, brain breaks

Music’s Effect on Community Resilience

Theresa Eck
Keywords: Music, free black communities in the early republic, music’s effect on history, Philadelphia history, social emotional learning in history, Advanced Placement U.S. History aka APUSH, analyzing historical evidence

Trauma, Music, and Healing: The Power of Music to Transform a Classroom

Charlette Walker
Keywords: writing, Middle School, mental health, Music, Emotional Health, ELA, toxic stress, Trauma, social-emotional learning (SEL), resilience, digital literacy, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Music History from Philadelphia and the Emotional Being and Effect of Music on the Brain

Michelle Jackson
Keywords: local history, local artists, Music History, Music, Emotional Being, public schools, Philadelphia, brain


Karen Brinkley
Keywords: Leon Huff, Kenny Gamble, Music, Philadelphia International Records