Preparing for Black History Month: Lesson Ideas for Music Teachers


If you are looking for some fresh and interesting ways to explore the achievements of African Americans with your band, choir, or orchestra during Black History Month in February, below are some helpful ideas and resources for you to consider to help build some deep and engaging lessons and/or units.

I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with National Association for Music Education (NAfME) on their Library of Congress – Teaching with Primary Sources project – where we are utilizing the Inquiry method or approach throughout the units. If you currently use Inquiry as a tool in your classroom, you know the power of the approach and how it is able to transform your classroom into a student centered/student driven environment.

If you are new to this idea, teachers that have used inquiry through various approaches have found that the students are more engaged, more thoughtful, and become more responsible for their learning. Since students direct much of the learning, most of these lesson ideas shared in the accompanying documents below will deploy the inquiry approach, making it even easier for you, the teacher, to use these ideas with little time or planning on your end. If you are new to the idea of the inquiry approach or methodology, here are several wonderful resources for you.

Library of Congress – Overview of inquiry approach & how to’s
What the heck is inquiry based learning?
Bringing inquiry based learning into your classroom
Research briefs on the impact of inquiry based teaching

There are lessons ideas for each of the traditional ensembles – Band, Choir, Orchestra. Click the buttons below to open the PDFs in your browser. We know that February is a month away, but it will upon us in short order, so click the appropriate link below and take the time to explore!

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Tom Dean
Tom Dean is a Choral Editor, and the Elementary and Secondary General Music Editor for J.W. Pepper & Son, Inc. Prior to working for Pepper, Tom taught instrumental and choral music as well as audio engineering at the high school level in the Delaware public schools for 32 years. He is a member of the ACDA and is active in the Delaware Music Educators where he served in numerous positions including President, All-State Coordinator, Technology chair, and Composition chair, and NAfME where he served as Eastern Division President and NEB member. He also was a member of the music writing team that developed the new music standards for the NCCAS project.

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