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The King and the Little Prince (credit: Adrian Brooks)
Web Links: Other Helpful Resources on the Internet
Strange Brew: The Musical Concoctions of Cream from Cream Reunion Concert
Grades: 9-12
OverviewOrganizers for Students

BACKGROUND ACTIVITIES:


The purpose of this activity is to tap the students' prior knowledge of music and build their background knowledge of Cream.

1. Write "Music of the 1960s" on the board and ask the students to brainstorm words, phrases, and images that come to mind. Ask for volunteers to share their responses and write them on the board. (Possible answers include Woodstock, hippies, psychedelic, rock 'n' roll, political protest, civil rights, the blues.) Encourage the students to explain and develop their responses.

2. Inform them that rock 'n' roll went through a transformation during the 1960s. As the decade progressed, it evolved from what was basically dance music to a music that reflected the social and political upheavals of the times, which were also influenced by the drug scene. Ask the students to share any information they know about this era or questions they have.

3. Tell the students that they will visit these Web sites to better understand the two major influences on rock 'n' roll during the late 1960s: the blues and psychedelia. Distribute the Blues/Psychedelia Organizer. Then ask them to log on to http://art4children.com/DAWN/blues.html (a collection of artwork influenced by the blues) and http://www.bluehoney.org/Cybertrip01.htm (a series of psychedelic patterns). Have them work with a partner to examine these sites, and, on their organizers, jot down the words and phrases that come to mind when they study the images.

4. Ask them to share their responses, and record them on the board. During the discussion, highlight the central themes and ideas suggested by the images. (For example, the blues gallery might elicit passion, emotion, African-American experience, soulful music, while the psychedelic patterns might suggest surrealism, dreamlike states, fluidity, dizzying patterns.)

5. Explain to the students that they will be studying the 1960s band Cream, who combined the blues and psychedelia into innovative and exciting music. Tell them that the members of Cream were three of the most gifted rock musicians of the day.


LEARNING ACTIVITIES:

Activity One

This activity will help the students gain an appreciation of the musical diversity of Cream through exposure to the group's songs.

1. Tell the students that they will be listening to the music and studying the lyrics of four songs performed by Cream. As they listen and read, ask them to try to determine which influence predominates, the blues or psychedelia.

2. Distribute the Song Organizer. Instruct the students to work in pairs to fill out the organizer while they listen to the music and read the lyrics.

3. Ask the students to log on to http://www.cream2005.com and click the link to launch the Cream Player. Then have them go to http://www.eric-clapton.co.uk/ecla/titles.html and locate the link for the first song they will listen to, "Spoonful" (http://www.eric-clapton.co.uk/ecla/lyrics/spoonful.html). Once the page loads, they should minimize the size of the window to get back to the Cream Player. Instruct them to click the Play button on the audio player at the top right of the page to start the song. They should then maximize the lyrics page so they can listen to the song while reading the lyrics and begin filling out their Song Organizers.

4. When the song ends, give the students a few minutes to complete the appropriate section of the organizer in consultation with their partner.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the remaining three songs:
"Badge" (http://www.eric-clapton.co.uk/ecla/lyrics/badge.html)
"White Room" (http://www.eric-clapton.co.uk/ecla/lyrics/white-room.html)
"Sunshine of Your Love" (http://www.eric-clapton.co.uk/ecla/lyrics/sunshine-of-your-love.html)

6. Take a poll to find out how the students classified each song. Encourage them to explain their answers with specific references to the music and lyrics.

Activity Two

This activity is designed to promote thinking about the nature of the fundamental forces behind what is known as "genius."

1. Divide the students into groups of four and have each group choose one student to record their ideas. Ask them to brainstorm a list of modern-day individuals who they feel possess an extraordinary intelligence or creative power. (Answers can include musicians, artists, scientists, writers, etc.). Each member of the group should contribute at least one name.

2. Invite one representative from each group to the board to transcribe the group's list.

3. Have the class study the lists from their seats and identify names that are repeated on two or more lists. Then circle them on the board.

4. Choose a name that appeared repeatedly to focus on. (If the lists are disparate, chose a name that is familiar to the students.) Erase the board, write that individual's name in the center, and begin a word web. Ask the students to ponder the characteristics of this person that made him/her extraordinary. (For example, characteristics of Albert Einstein might include eccentric, passionate, weird, naturally gifted, not afraid to take risks, rebellious, etc.) As they offer characteristics, write them around the name.

5. Ask the students if they know anyone they would describe as a genius. Have them share their responses aloud and elicit their reasons for selecting these individuals. Compare the responses to the characteristics on the word web.

Activity Three

The purpose of this activity is for the students to critically analyze and evaluate quotations regarding the nature of genius and to use the ensuing discussions to understand the success, popularity, and musical status of Cream.

1. Each quotation on the Quotations Page describes the nature of genius. After downloading and printing the page, cut it into strips with one quotation on each. Divide the students into groups of four or five. Give each group a number (Group 1, Group 2, etc.). Distribute one quotation strip, one sheet of poster paper or giant Post-It, and a marker of a different color to each group. Have each group select a writer, a facilitator, and a timekeeper. Explain that they will have three minutes to discuss the quotation and come up with an interpretation as a group. They can agree with, disagree with, or qualify the quotation and then explain their rationale. Instruct the timekeepers to keep the group informed of the elapsed time and to give a one-minute warning. The facilitator should make sure that everyone has shared their views and is able to put the interpretation into his/her own words. The writers then will write the interpretation onto the large sheet. Instruct them to write only on the top half and leave the bottom half blank. Allow another two minutes for this transcription.

2. Have the students post their work around the room in order (with the poster of Group 1 first, etc.) When all the posters are up and in order, direct Group 1 to the poster of Group 2, Group 2 to the poster of Group 3, and so on. Give each group one minute to read the quote and the interpretation. Then, instruct them to put a "√" (check mark) next to something they agree with, an "x" next to something they don't agree with, and a "?" next to something that needs clarification. After one minute, direct the groups to move to the next poster and do the same thing. Continue in this manner until all the groups have seen allthe posters except their own. Invite the students back to their seats.

3. Discuss with the class the items that are marked with an "x" or a "?". Encourage them to communicate their disagreement and provide clarification where needed.

4. Allow the students three minutes of silence to devise their own definitions of genius. Ask for volunteers to share.

Activity Four

The purpose of this activity is for the students to conduct research and present the results to their peers.

1. Explain to the students that they will do some research on the band Cream. Divide them into groups of four and assign one of the following topics to each group member (alternatively, the students can self-select a topic):
  • The History of Cream
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jack Bruce
  • Ginger Baker
Distribute a Subject Organizer to every student and have them record information from their research in the appropriate sections.

2. Suggest they begin their research at the following Web sites.

History of Cream
http://www.jackbruce.com/cream/story.htm
http://www.music.com/group/cream/1/
http://www.cream2005.com/photogallery.lasso
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream_(band)

Eric Clapton
http://www.ericclapton.com/
http://www.whereseric.com/
http://www.rollingstone.com/artist/_/id/43228?pageid=rs.ArtistBio&pageregion=nav

Jack Bruce
http://www.jackbruce.com
http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/bruce_jack/artist.jhtml

Ginger Baker
http://www.ginger-baker.com/
http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Ginger_Baker.html

3. When the students have completed their research, instruct them to return to their assigned groups and share the information they've collected. Distribute three blank Subject Organizers to each student. As they share information on their topics with one another, the students should record the information in their organizers.


CULMINATING ACTIVITY:

This activity will provide an opportunity for the students to role-play as the members of Cream to gain insight into each of their unique contributions to the band.

1. Choose one group from the previous activity to portray each member of the band for a mock interview.

2. Instruct them to log on to http://www.pbs.org/gperf/dialogue/dialogue_cream.html and watch the video interviews with the members of Cream. The students should pay close attention to their speech, appearance, gestures, attitudes, tone, etc. Allow the three students time together to discuss the personality traits of each member and the dynamics between and among them. Students should make decisions about how they will interact with one another in the mock interview.

3. Direct the other groups to devise at least five questions to ask the band members in an interview. The questions should be based on the information they've found in their research.

4. Place three chairs at the front of the room in which the students portraying the members of Cream will sit.

5. Allow the groups to take turns asking the "band" questions. Remind the members to stay in character as they answer.

6. Ask the band members this final question yourself: "What do you think your personal, unique contribution was to Cream?"


EXTENSION ACTIVITY:

After viewing the CREAM REUNION CONCERT, tell the students to write a review of the show for a major publication. Remind them that they should include the information they've learned about the music, the history of the band, and the performers in the review.



 
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