Welcome to the AK-CSS Members Forum! Please sign up to join the discussions.


  • I loved analyzing the spirituals. Spirituals are some of the most powerful literature that exists, and oftentimes the most beautiful to listen to. It can be a touchy subject (especially at the elementary level), but so worth delving into. Luckily, I'm teaching elementary music at a school where my principal lets me do religious songs. As long as I do songs representing various religions throughout the year, she doesn't have a problem with it. It's wonderful, because students love singing spirituals. They are oftentimes very appealing both rhythmically and harmonically for kids, plus the content is so powerful and leads to good discussion and connections. On another note, I am shocked that cakewalks are still so popular at school fundraisers (considering the origins).
  • A practical model for the design of school programs/concerts is to "make the audience leave wanting more." That is how I felt at the end of the afternoon.  We heard the interview of Bob Ledbetter, I would have enjoyed the comparison of a few more.  I would enjoy a whole class focused on the study of spirituals and their role in the slave society.  I wanted to do more circle dancing.  The little bit of Cake Walk we did was plenty, however!

  • Bobby Horton's two versions of "Battle Cry of Freedom" was interesting in that the Union version was more upbeat and triumphal, while the Confederate version was more somber with a slower tempo.  I was not aware of the origin of the Cake Walk.  Apparently, black slaves would mimic their masters and white folks while dancing the Cake Walk, but the joke was on the white folks that didn't know they were being mocked.  They erroneously thought that they were being emulated by their slaves.  "Wade in the Water" was a great Negro Spiritual that slaves sang.  The song has a lot of references to the Bible.  It was a way the slaves could communicate if they were not allowed to talk while working in the fields.  Hidden messages like "get in the water" so that dogs could not track their scent. 

  • This afternoon was very engaging. The interview of the former slave was very different than if we had read the conversation. I could tell a lot about each man's attitude. The interviewer was arrogant, impatient, & at times very disrespectful towards the former slave. I felt he was almost mocking him! You could hear it in his voice. On the other hand, the former slave was respectful, calm, submissive,  & very passive. I think he showed strong character, when he said he always tried to do whats right, because he knew what was right.I have a lot of empathy for people, so its hard for me to tolerate situations when one person is mistreating or being rude to another.

    I found the history of the cakewalk very eye opening!!!!!

    Thanks for another engaging class, that makes me want to read a ton of history books & find a costume ball to attend, or at the very least a barn dance!

  • While teaching students who are new immigrants from all over the world and who don't speak English, it is fascinating to bring up the whole concept of slavery in the US.  The students from Dominican Republic relate to slavery, because their ancestors were taken as slaves by Christopher Columbus.  The cruelty of slavery is something that shocks the students.  I have to show them pictures of slaves who have scars on their backs, etc.  Many students don't understand the historic conflict between African Americans and Whites.  I've used Ken Burns' series on the history of Jazz in my class, and it is eye opening for the students.  I will definitely add spirituals to my box of goodies.  Thank you for the resources.  I love NARA....It was absolutely fascinating to hear the voice of the former slave.  

  • "March to Georgia" is my kind of dancing. I definitely want to make it a part of my lessons, probably as direct instruction then later as a brain break. The community based dance fits in well with the rise of the middle class as a force of change.

    The sound analysis worksheet and "voices from the days of slavery" are gold mines. The worksheet could be used with all sorts of audio recordings.

    The cakewalk was totally new to me. I learned so much in such a short amount of time. It provides a good example of perspective. Likewise, the two versions of "Battlecry of Freedom" provides a definite study on perspective.
  • This was a great class.  So many things I can use.

    In learning  Marching Through Georgia I was surprised by how jubilant  the dance was given the history of the Sherman's March.  Yet in giving it thought I know the North would have been in a victorious state so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by it.  It's certainly a dance I could use with my students without much difficulty.  The dance is easy to learn and what a great way to present the past and the feelings at that time.

    The former slave interviews were incredibly interesting.  I love that we  have those resources and I will definitely use them.

    As to the Cake Walk I had never even hear about it.  That's one of the incredible bonuses of taking classes like this.  Most students know of or have participated in a cake walk.  To know of it's origin makes the subject come alive.  They can relate this to something in their life.

  • I enjoyed the group dances- fun and entertaining. I found the Civil War/spirituals Era very interesting. Although it is hard to look back on how people were treated I think it is important to remember it. We can ignore something it that doesn't mean it didn't happen or that it doesn't exist. How we learn from the past, how we pass that knowledge on, will determine the future of our country.
    The cakewalk would be a great way to talk about bullying and how we can treat people. Wade in the Water is one of my favorite songs ever. There is an episode on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, this would be great to tie into Some sort of collage unit with Romare Bearden and the Harlem Renaissance - even though he comes later on.
  • I enjoyed seeing the two different versions of "Battle Cry of Freedom". I'd like to do more on Civil War songs in the future in my class - I now know that there is a wealth of material and music to be used. The Civil War in particular is a great way to tie American History into Music Class.

    I've also been inspired to include more teaching of Negro Spirituals in my classes. I've avoided this in the past, because I've been leery of how to present it, especially considering the population of my school. But, I think with the right approach and sensitivity, it can be a powerful lesson for students of all demographics. 

  • I really enjoyed listening to the interview of the African American who lived during slavery.  It's so much more engaging to listen to a recording rather then to just read the script.  Its interesting to hear the personal dialect of the interviewee.  

    I also liked listening to the to the two versions of the Battle Cry and Freedom.  I think this would be a great technique to use with several recordings of the same song.  Students would be able to understand that the same music can sound different depending on the interpretation.  

    I didn't care much for the cakewalk dance.  I think this would be an important lesson to cover for a history lesson, but I wouldn't teach the dance in music because there is not much to it.  

This reply was deleted.