I greatly appreciate the time we were granted in DH to consider or rethink how we use music in our history courses. In my early days as a French and ESL teacher, I created songs to help my students absorb various concepts. My favorite “Love Revised” carried my 10th and 11th graders through a jazzy lesson in composition writing that I still enjoy singing for fun when no one is in earshot: “Baby, Dot my “i’s”/cross my “t’s”/make a polished paper out of me/You see I have had enough of fragmented love…” And the rendition goes on….
When I entered the college classroom as a French teacher, I continued to compose little songs to help my students remember various types of grammatical configurations. And I was more than eager to use my creative skills once again to help me remember under pressure the numbers of sharps and flats found in various key signatures.
As I was trying to establish myself as a historian, I shied away from performance in the class room, and chose to include prerecorded performances that meshed well with a given historical theme or period. Music as social protest was more suitable to my needs at the time. With the advent of You Tube and a boost of confidence gained from a jazz history course I took on campus, I began including on my syllabi links to various songs with clear historical import: Billie Holiday’s haunting rendition of “Strange Fruit,” James Brown, “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud,” Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” and others.
My past and ongoing appreciate for music and music literature notwithstanding, I greatly appreciate our discussion of music and digital history because it challenged me to imagine other meaningful ways to engage music in my history classes.
Source: Now You Hear It: Music & History