What is American Music and Where Did it Come From?

Author: Frank Machos


School of the Future

Year: 2011

Seminar: Who Are Those People and Why Are They Listening to That Music

Grade Level: 9-12

Keywords: blues, Jazz, Music, Music History, rock

School Subject(s): Arts, Music

As a music educator, I strive to make general music classes relevant to my students and
reflective of their cultural experiences in hopes of inspiring their understanding of and desire to
create music. It is vital that students understand the overwhelming influence and impact music
has on their daily life, and that they are informed how to process the meaning of and effects of
the music around them. In working with students from kindergarten through college I have
found that while every age group brings different perspectives, the themes and concepts I address
are consistent regardless and lessons are successful when based on a foundation of the students’

This 3 part curriculum unit has been developed to provide a structured platform for high school
students to explore these critical concepts and categorized into two overlapping units – American
Music History and Music Today – Culture, Society, & Everyday Life.

In the first unit, students will explore the concept of music in everyday life and media literacy,
and how it translates to their everyday experiences. The history unit will explore American
Music History since the Revolutionary War, focusing on the decades and genres of the 20th
Century as it descends from today back to the Negro Spirituals, and the branches along the way
including gospel, blues, jazz, rock, and hip hop. Finally, in building their music vocabulary,
students will learn fundamental music elements including melody, harmony, rhythm (basic
notation, simple drum set patterns, 2/4 Snare Drum), song form, Blues and I-IV-V chord
progressions, instrumentation (acoustic and digital) and composition (songwriting, basic music
programming, and scoring).

All three units are designed to be overlapping, and as such teachers can move around or insert
aspects of various units whenever necessary, based on the flow of the class, interest of the
students, relevance to the topic of study, or necessity to facilitate an activity.

Download Unit: 11.05.04-1.pdf

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