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Craft in America
Geoff Stelling banjos


In this lesson, students will view the MUSIC episode, which features the skilled craftwork required to make ukuleles, trumpets, banjos, guitars, and timpani mallets. Students will hear musicians playing each of the instruments. Students will also hear the musicians talk about their personal connection to their instruments.

Additionally, the program illustrates how a study of American music is a study of American history. After viewing the episode, students will investigate connections between musicians and their instruments and between American music and American history. The studio portion of the lesson is designed around the idea of creating a maker space in which students experiment with and invent prototype instruments. Instructions are also included for a basic banjo made from a sturdy cardboard box.

Grade level: 9-12

Episode: MUSIC


Download the Lesson Guide for in PDF format HERE to get started in your classroom.

Buy Craft in America on DVD

MUSIC episode: Featuring finely crafted handmade instruments and the world renowned artists who play them

David Monette talks about his trumpet making philosophy and works with Scotty Barnhart

A jam session at the Kamaka Hawaii ukulele factory with Jake Shimabukuro and the Kamakas

Joan Baez speaks about activism, her trip to Hanoi & the guitar as an instrument of change

Museum director Dick Boak shows special guitars in the C.F. Martin Museum

William L. Ellis & his father Tony Ellis on banjos, fiddle and family

Tony Ellis plays "Becky Thatcher Waltz" and talks about the Becky Thatcher riverboat

Rhiannon Giddens sings "Better Git Yer Learning"

Jim Hartel on craft, of making things daily by hand, and his experience stone carving

Banjo maker Jim Hartel shows us old banjos and plays the minstrel tune "Jim Along Josie."