Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

July 8, 2004

Institute Combines Music, History

High school teachers from across the country will gather at Pitt July 12-Aug. 13 to explore how music can be utilized to teach American history to our nation’s young people. The five-week institute, “Voices Across Time: American History Through Song,” is hosted by Pitt’s Center for American Music and has attracted 25 participants from as far away as Alaska.

The teachers represent a broad cross-section of school locations, ages and years of experience in the classroom. Assisted by a faculty of national historians, musicologists and education specialists, the teachers will learn how the music and popular songs of particular eras in history can broaden and enhance a student’s understanding of the people who lived the events, as well as the ethnic, political and socioeconomic diversity of those eras.

“The sound of history is missing from our classrooms,” says institute codirector and Deane Root, director of the center and chair of Pitt’s music department. “Over the years, songs have allowed everyday people to voice their attitudes, opinions, or beliefs. Music provides a very real soundtrack to events throughout history.”

According to Root, studies have shown that music helps a student pay attention, retain information, and perform better on standardized tests. In a 1999 pilot project, teachers who used a “Voices Across Time” resource guide to integrate music into their social studies or American history curriculum reported that students who had been struggling beforehand were making significant progress in class.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the summer teaching institute is one of 29 projects designated by the NEH as “We the People” projects, designed to explore significant issues in U.S. history and culture for teachers and the general public.

Leave a Reply