Speaking Through Music and Poetry
For some the process of writing and speaking is done easiest by using a creative alternate outlet as their means of expression. They combine the rhythms of words or sounds to express their thoughts on social issues through poetry and music. Students will explore how these art forms can be used as both entertainment as well as a means of social protest or injustice. They will listen to, view and analyze protest music and "teen poetry jams," then create and perform their own poems.
- Analyze techniques musicians and poets use to effectively communicate their messages
- Collectively construct the criteria and rubric to evaluate a poem
- Deliver a poetry "jam" on a select topic
- Audio and/or video clips of protest music
- Lyrics to protest songs used in lesson
- Video clips of "teen poetry jam" or "teen poetry slam" competitions
- Internet connectivity
Relevant National Standards
NL-ENG.K-12.8, NL-ENG.K-12.5, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NETS 1, NETS 2
- Discuss the various meanings of the word "poetry." Students should read lyrics from particular protest songs. After a short discussion, have the class listen to the music of these songs and continue the discussion.
Warning: Some songs or poems may contain bias, stereotypes, racial slurs, profanity or adult situations. Please make sure you review material before using to make sure it is age and class appropriate.
Possible discussion questions:
- After reading these lyrics, do you think this is one form of poetry? How is this different from your perceptions of poetry?
- How does the addition of the music help or distract from the ideas of the words? What’s more important, the words or the music?
- How can these songs help with reforming an idea or society issue? Is this a good platform for expressing views or opinions?
- Teachers should do an Internet video search for "teen poetry jam" or "teen poetry slam." Have the class listen or watch a random sampling of age-appropriate poems. What are some key techniques used by the speaker to engage listeners and get their message across? (words/language, humor, personal interest stories, body language, voice, facial expressions, etc.). You also might want to present and discuss poetic terms and devices to the class. (Example: http://storytrail.com/poetry/poeticdevices.htm)
- Teacher works with students to construct the criteria and rubric to evaluate the poem or song and the performance.
- Students will write and deliver a poem or song about one of the following: a personal issue affecting them, an issue their age group or peers are trying to deal with, a current event or social issue. Speeches may be delivered live or via podcast/vidcast.
- Set up a "teen poetry jam/slam" in your school, district or region.
- Have students research further into protest music. This can be done as a general topic or viewed from one of the reform movements such as abolition, women’s suffrage, the labor movement, civil rights, the anti-war movement, feminist movement, or environmentalism. Students may also research world music to explore the protest songs of other nations, such as in anti-apartheid South Africa.
Russell Simmons Presents: Brave New Voices. HBO, n.d. 10 Jan. 2010.
Say It Loud! 65 Great Protest Songs. Popmatters, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/special/section/say-it-loud-65-great-protest-songs/ (Warning: some explicit lyrics)
Strange Fruit. Independent Lens, 28 Mar. 2003. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Urban Word nyc. Urban Word, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Youth Speaks. Youth Speaks, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
||"Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud"
||"A Change Is Gonna Come"
||"Blowin' in the Wind"
"The Times They Are a-Changin"
||"Not Ready To Make Nice"
||"Inner City Blues"
"What’s Going On"
||"This Land Is Your Land"
||"Give Peace A Chance"
||"Lift Every Voice and Sing"
||"Fight the Power"
||"Eyes on the Prize"
"We Shall Overcome"
Country: Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson
Folk: Joan Baez, Pete Seegar, Peter, Paul and Mary, Phil Ochs, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young
Punk: Green Day (“American Idiot”), Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, Anti-Flag, Rise Against
Rap: The Beastie Boys, Grandmaster Flash, N.W.A., KRS-One, Rage Against the Machine
Rock: Ani DiFranco, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Sonic Youth (“Swimsuit Issue”), Neil Young, Tom Waits
Historic American Sheet Music. Duke University Libraries, 24 Oct, 2008. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Lyrical Legacy: 400 Years of American Song and Poetry. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Making a Statement through Song and Poetry. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Music in America. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Performing Arts, Music. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Songs of Our Times. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Two Unreconciled Strigings. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.
Stand Up and Sing: Music and our Reform History. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.