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    MENC: The National Association for Music Education
  •   Teachers Guide
    Sample introductory script

    The River of Song described in the series is the Mississippi--a river that flows through the heartland of America, and along which people of all sorts live, work, and make music. As you listen to and watch the show, please pay attention to the musicians. What are they saying when they describe their music? What do they tell you about the reasons they play music? And when they play the music itself, what do you think of their playing?
           The last question is especially important. Remember that different kinds of music will have to be evaluated in different ways--but there are some basic sorts of questions that you can ask about a piece of music that will always be useful:
    • Are people enjoying the music?
    • Are people--either the musicians or the community they live with--getting something from the music?
    • Do the musicians appear to be experts in performing the music?
    • Would you like to hear more of this music?
    • Would you like to know more about this music?
    Of course, each listener answers these questions in a different way about each new piece. The important thing is that you give every new piece in every new style a chance. And that brings up your expectations as a listener: What do you think that music along the Mississippi will sound like? (One hint--this program is not primarily about what types of music were played along the Mississippi fifty years ago, but about what people are playing and listening to today. You might find:
    • Blues
    • Native American music
    • Rock
    • ...and more styles.
    We'll keep the list that we arrived at as a class, and look back at the end of the program to see if our guesses were close to the reality of music in this part of America. And we'll look back at the list to see if the categories we've suggested to label different musical genres really work. We may find that this list of categories is really too simple for the creative mix of musical styles that exist along the "River of Song."
           As you start to watch and listen to the tape, please fill out the appropriate parts of the handout. For each selection we hear, you should place a check by the instruments used, a check by the type of music played, and a check by the purpose that the music serves. Pay attention--when we finish watching and listening, we'll have some questions to answer.

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