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  • I've been working on my final project, and it has to do with this era. It has led me to wonder about "Emancipation songs" and if I know what they are. Is Battle Hymn of the Republic one? Also, it has been interesting to read and research some more about that hymn and John Brown's Body. Apparently the regiment that is credited with the original lyrics had an infantryman whose name was also John Brown, so it is supposed that some lyrics were composed in reference to him, to poke fun at him, etc.. Ahhh, music. I like how malleable it is...and how much it reveals about the people who sung, wrote or danced it.

  • I can see teaching the Lancer's Quadrille and maybe even linking it--the mood-- to our own Alaska Guard members who are still in Afganistan.  That the mood characterized in the dances can give us some clue as to the mood of the nation is an intriguing notion. 

    I need more information about the Cake Walk...that was a very interesting discussion.  I get the connection to the plantation and used as an outlet for frustration at the constantly demeaning relationship.  I want to think more about this one!

  • I really liked the Lancer's Quadrille dance. I think it could easily be used with all age groups, especially with my 5-8 year olds. It teaches social skills like turn taking, counting to eight, changing directions, and is a way I can pull in "patriotism" and showing respecting for soldiers.
  • The Negro Spirituals and the work/energy that they represent are so similar to our daily chores and for some mimic the emotions as well!  Shoveling snow, hauling water and honeybuckets, chopping wood--I can hear the students humming a low tune as they complete their chores.  I would have them listen to the historical songs and make up some of their own.  The slow movement of the spirituals make it easy for everyone to follow and would be fun to make up current songs and movements. The mimicry activity is a fun addition.  I can see how it connects to getting students to feel empathy for others.

    The contra dance was a blast.  Great energizer and fun to do.  High success for everyone involved.  I would definitely use this activity during a family night event.

  • Wade in the Water was a great piece.  My idea would be to use this after an initial introduction to the slavery and the Underground RR.  I would present the lyrics and let the students ask questions to dig deeper into song's historical context.

    I am also starting to make connections between the movement of cake walks and the evolution art, music and dance of the Harlem Ren of the the 1920's.

    These resources are also great starting points to design activities that can create an atmosphere of empathy in the classroom.

  • This is my favorite era of US History, and I am so excited to share what I have learned with my students.  We started talking about the slave trade during colonial times last week, and so as we continue to build on it, I plan to play some of the spirituals and maybe even have the students compare/contrast between this and Yup'ik dance.  I am hoping to find a YouTube video of "Wade in the Water" that may have dance with it.

    I also thought that the lyrics to "Battle Hymn of the Republic/John Brown's Body" were very interesting, and something I may have the students read and discuss.  I would also like to come up with a way to simulate a Civil War fort, and I think the square dance song would be perfect to do during that activity.

  • I think these dances again illustrate differences of opinion between two groups of people, but in this case the ideological differences over the roles of African and Black Americans in northern and southern societies. The first blackface minstrel show is reputed to have happened in NY, despite the fact that northern anthems like the battle hymn of the republic indicate a desire to make men free. The southern states took blackface shows into new territory, but slaves and poor black people created the opposite in the "cakewalk" shows. Also as the battle anthems for the north against the south and vice versa were made to inspire the troops, the slave songs and spirituals were made to inspire other slaves.
    This is probably one of the most direct curricular relations one can make, as the Civil War is usually emphasized in all social studies curricula. I would also be greatly entertained if I could get the students to sing something akin to a spiritual or slave song while they were doing class work. That could be linked to a social studies, reading or writing theme. That would make my day.
    I do appreciate the value of the cakewalk as a means of relaxing students when studying this time period, but I have concerns over bullying; the teacher will have to assign or closely monitor who mocks who, as well as be mindful of daily changes in student moods and relationships. I think I would only feel comfortable with the students imitating me.

  • The negro spirituals is exactly where I'm at in my JH lit classes right now and these songs have given me a lot of ideas of activities we can do throughout the unit (after we do the Jefferson and Liberty dance on Monday of course)  I really like the idea of introducing the songs and talking about why they sang.  Already my students have been asking how they put up with it.  How the slaves dealt with the oppression every day.  This could be a great conversation starter to how they coped and hoped for a brighter future, how they communicated and relied on one another.  It's also a great way to transition into the Underground Railroad and how they used the songs to communicate what to do, etc. 

    Also looking at the songs as poems is another way to really use this within the unit.  I can teach a lot of literary elements while looking at the songs and discuss how and why they may have used them.  Everything from alliteration to repetition and allusions and imagery could be touched on during the unit.  The activities of looking at songs and really breaking down the spirituals could add a lot of depth to any unit touching on slavery or the Civil War.

  • The cake walk is a great way to talk about the use of music & dance for slaves to mimic and joke about the manners & behavior of the white slave masters & mistresses.  The work songs & spirituals demonstrate how as really a means of survival and common cause, the slaves encouraged one another in their long, hard work-filled daily chores.  It is also an example of them using music to communicate, possibly about stations and routes of the Underground Railroad, and where safe houses might be located.  There is also the connection of them finding relief and salvation through the references to Bible stories and promises of redemption in the Bible.  It would have acted as a teaching tool about Bible stories and Christian redemption, since most slaves were forbidden to read, learn to read or to write.  The huge importance of the oral tradition in educating and communicating among the slaves.

    There are so many connections to make, it boggles my mind.

    The Lancer's Quadrille would be very celebratory, and fun to incorporate into a classroom situation.  It would be more fun with more room, like doing it in the gym.  Gym time is precious, so I might consider it as an activity for P.E. class, or possibly taking it outside on a warmer spring day, when the tundra is still a bit frozen.

  • I wish that I had a big skirt to dance some of these dances in.  swish, swish, swish

    I liked the quad dance better than the cake walk. Especially today, I didn't have to think as much.  = ) I just had to dance the given steps. These are good for the kids that are self conscience of dancing in front of others.  There is comfort in knowing what you are suppose to do when you are suppose to do it.

    Someone suggested that the  cake walk could be used for empathy and Second Step training.  I agree but you would have to be very careful with this.  I could see some of my boys making fun of others in a mean way.

    Loved the music.  Either fun and moving or stirring and uplifting.

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