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March 31, 2021

Daily News Lesson: Musical duo Black Violin on defying stereotypes

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Directions: Watch the video, read the summary and answer the discussion questions below. To view the full video and transcript and hear the Black Violin’s music, click here

Summary: Kev Marcus and Wil B met in a high school music class and they eventually went on to form the musical group Black Violin. Together, they disrupt people’s impression of what classical music should be. 

  • The inspiration behind their music and name comes from the Black violinist Stuff Smith. Black Violin was the last album Smith recorded before his death and is what changed the duo’s perception of the violin. 
  • As they describe it, their music has a very classical approach, but the beats are hard-hitting and genre-blending. 
  • Ultimately, Marcus says “I have always played the violin because no one expects me to do it. And I liked changing people’s perceptions of what is possible.”

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is behind Black Violin?
  • What stereotypes and assumptions are they challenging?
  • Where did they get the inspiration for their name?
  • When did they start their musical career together?
  • Why has Marcus always played the violin?
  • How does their music attract such a wide and large range of people?

Focus questions:

  1. Why is challenging stereotypes important? What stereotypes are Marcus and B defying and how are they doing so?
  2. How can you work on not giving into stereotypes and actively combatting those stereotypes of yourself and others?

Media literacy: Why do you think the producers of this segment chose these musicians to profile?

Dig Deeper: 

  1. Take a look at this lesson plan “Black Violin breaks down music stereotypes.”
  2. Watch this NewsHour Student Reporting Labs story on how to break down stereotypes and answer discussions questions surrounding the challenges that come with labels.
  3. Check out this NewsHour video story on how students experience and cope with racist stereotypes.

Written by Rebecca Shaid, EXTRA’s intern and Northwestern University student, and EXTRA’s Vic Pasquantonio


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