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LIBERTY - THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

TEACHER'S GUIDE
THE RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARIES
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
THE CONTINENTAL ARMY AND WASHINGTON
FACTORS THAT HANDICAPPED THE BRITISH
REVOLUTIONARY WAR MUSIC
CREATING A NEW NATION
TEACHER'S GUIDE
  Lesson 5: REVOLUTIONARY WAR MUSIC
Investigate some of the more familiar and famous songs of the Revolutionary War period and how music was used to convey messages of patriotism and highlight popular sentiments.

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Revolutionary War Music

Overview:

Music frequently plays an important role in military and social history. Often, songs become standards of troops fighting in war, such as the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" during the Civil War, "God Bless America" during the World War years, "Ballad of the Green Berets" in the Vietnam era and, most recently, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" in the Gulf War years.

This lesson will investigate some of the more familiar and famous songs of the Revolutionary War period and will examine how music helped convey messages of patriotism and highlighted popular sentiments.

Related Resources for the Lesson

In this lesson, students will use the following resources:

1. Episode 5 of Liberty!, in particular the segment on the British surrender at Yorktown, which is included in Chapter 10, from 45:47-53:42.

2. The Songs of the Revolution page on the Liberty! web site (http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/chronicle/songs.html) .

3. The lesson draws on several song lyrics available at the Franklin (Tennessee) Special School District "A Time In Music" web site (http://www.fssd.org/PGS/PGS_Digital_Museum/music%20Folder/index.html). The songs can be found at http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/chronicle_subject.html - Click on Songs of the Revolution.

While the teacher may wish to have students view lyrics to some/all of the Revolutionary-era songs on the site, the following songs will be used for the lesson:
a."God Save the Thirteen States" (http://www.fssd.org/PGS/PGS_Digital_Museum/music%20Folder/save.txt)
b."The World Turned Upside Down"
(http://www.fssd.org/PGS/PGS_Digital_Museum/music%20Folder/world.txt)
c.
"Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier"
(http://www.fssd.org/PGS/PGS_Digital_Museum/music%20Folder/johnny.txt)
d.
"The Liberty Song"
(http://www.fssd.org/PGS/PGS_Digital_Museum/music%20Folder/liberty.txt)

Note: The teacher may also wish to play the melody of a specific song. Each song is also available for play as a .midi file. The teacher should prepare ahead of time by ensuring that the web browser has the correct plug-in installed to play .midi files and that the system has a working sound card and speakers.

4. Information about the roots of the Liberty! soundtrack at http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/liberty_music.html

5. Related Questions PDF (for students)

6 . Related Questions PDF (for teachers, with answers)

Relevant Standards

This lesson addresses the following national content standards established by the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/).

US History:

  • Understands the social, political, and religious aspects of the American Revolution (e.g., decisions leading to crisis of revolution, efforts by Parliament and colonies to prevent revolution, the ideas of different religions and the economic and social differences of Loyalists, Patriots and neutrals)
  • Understands the social and economic impact of the Revolutionary War (e.g., problems of financing the war, wartime inflation, hoarding and profiteering and personal and social economic hardships brought on by war)

    Music

  • Knows various roles that musicians fulfill (e.g., entertainer, teacher and transmitter of cultural tradition) and representative individuals who have functioned in these roles
  • Classifies unfamiliar but representative aural examples of music (e.g., by genre, style, historical period and culture)
  • Knows sources of American music genres (e.g., swing, Broadway musical and blues), the evolution of these genres and musicians associated with them

    Strategy for the Lesson:

    The teacher may wish to begin this lesson with a quick overview of the historical importance of the songs used in this lesson as well as other songs on the web site. For example, the teacher may specifically note that "The World Turned Upside Down" was played during the British surrender at Yorktown or that some of the specific lyrics might have served to generate sympathy for the colonial cause.

    Next, the teacher should distribute copies of the song lyrics to each student or direct the student to access the lyrics on the web site. (Note: One suggestion to reduce the number of pages might be for the teacher to "copy and paste" the lyrics into another word processing document in a layout which uses fewer pages). Distribute the question sheets.

    Allow sufficient time for students to complete the questions. Once students have completed the question sheets, the teacher should evaluate them according to the depth of the answer desired, the amount of time allowed for the assignment, as well as any other criteria established by the teacher, such as spelling and grammar.

    Extension Activities:

    1.Have the students write song lyrics or poetry regarding a battle or event depicted in the Liberty! series. They may either write lyrics that fit the tune of a Revolutionary-era song, or if students are able, they might want to write their own music and lyrics for a song.

    2.Ask students to compare a song from this lesson with another war/protest song from more recent times. Have them write a comparative essay regarding the two songs.


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