Fine Arts

Social Studies (X) - Fine Arts (X)

Sandwiches, Modernity, and Lyrics: A Thanksgiving Episode | PBS Idea Channel

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In honor of Thanksgiving, we present two ideas to discuss with your loved ones around the dinner table. First up: sandwiches. They are the perfect food for today's fast-paced lifestyle. But was it the creation of this versatile food that ushered in the period of classical modernity? Next up: music lyrics websites. We all love singing the wrong lyrics and then looking up the actual lyrics on rap genius. But are these sites stealing from the recording industry by profiting off of artist's lyrics? 

What is Fiction? (ft. War of the Worlds) | PBS Idea Channel

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What is fiction? That's the question that popped into our minds when thinking about Orson Welles' radio War of the Worlds performance, which set off a public panic of listeners who thought NJ was truly being attacked by aliens. Those aliens didn't really exist, since it was all pretend. But, on the other hand, they did (and do) exist in a way. They can be described, referenced, and can have as much veracity to people as physical objects. And the worlds created in fiction can contain real things - cars, people, New Jersey. Can something both exist and not exist? 

Does the Kinect Make Microsoft an Arts Benefactor? | PBS Idea Channel

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If you haven't had a chance to play with Microsoft's Kinect, you're missing out on some great video games and amazing art. The Kinect is an awesome piece of Xbox 360 hardware that maps your physical movements onto any screen. Artists of all stripes have embraced the Kinect, using the gesture recognition technology to create amazing interactive artworks and impressive visuals. These works wouldn't have existed without this piece of technology, making the corporate giant Microsoft the 21st century's incarnation of Lorenzo de Medici. 

Is Avatar: The Last Airbender Anime? | PBS Idea Channel

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What is anime? After binge watching the American-produced Avatar: The Last Airbender & Avatar: Legend of Korra, the question seems more complicated than anticipated. The general consensus in the West is that anime is a product of Japanese culture, and true anime can only come from Japan. However, in Japan, anything animated is anime, including animated American shows! So, what defines anime? Visual and tonal style? Geographic borders? Is there a reason to keep the definition of anime limited?

OnStage In America: HONKY | What Black People Talk About

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The black shoe designer visits his sister, the therapist, and vents his anger about the new CEO of his company and the company's mercenary attitudes toward race. In the process, his own authenticity as African American is brought into question.

OnStage In America: HONKY | White Guilt

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The young white copywriter and his white girlfriend discuss their wedding plans and get drawn into a discussion of their privileged status in America and America's attitudes toward others in the world. The copywriter is riddled by guilt, but his girlfriend refuses to feel guilty or share his tortured feelings.

OnStage In America: HONKY | Looking for Something

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The black shoe designer is confronted on the subway by two teenagers from the ghetto who offer him drugs. The kids, projections of his own prejudices, force him to search his conscience and resolve his own conflicted attitudes toward race. In the end, he returns to his white girlfriend.

Singing with Angry Bird | Lesson Plan Clips: Cultural Competence and Cultural Humility in Cross-Cultural Exchange

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After he retired from his career in opera, Jae-Chang Kim relocated to the Indian city of Pune where he started the Banana Children’s Choir for children living in the city’s slums. Affectionately nicknamed Angry Bird by his students, Jae-Chang Kim is not attempting to train his youth choir members to work as professional musicians; instead he wants to introduce them to the world beyond Pune through music and performance. But the children’s parents, who are struggling in the economic margins, wonder if the time spent at choir practice could be better used studying and helping to earn money for the family. 

The film Singing with Angry Bird follows Jae-Chang Kim for a year as he attempts to involve the parents in the choir by inviting them to rehearse for and perform in a joint concert with their kids. As the project intersects with the choir families’ daily challenges, Angry Bird and the singers must collaborate to find new strategies to make space for the singing they love while respecting the demanding economic and cultural responsibilities of Pune’s community. 

Through the following lesson for Singing with Angry Bird, students will understand the significance of cultural competence in cultural exchange projects like the Banana Children’s Choir and assess its benefits and limitations. They will also explore the related concept of cultural humility and consider how they would integrate these approaches into theoretical cultural exchange projects of their own.

Hamilton’s America | Adapting History into Musical Theater

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Experience Lin-Manuel Miranda’s writing process for the song “My Shot” from the hit musical Hamilton, followed by a conversation with Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman about “wrestling history to the stage”; as well as remarks by President Barack Obama in this media gallery from GREAT PERFORMANCES: “Hamilton’s America.”

Students will be able to observe the process of turning historical facts into rap lyrics and attempt to adapt an important historical event into musical theater.

The Birth of a Nation: Film as Propaganda | Birth of a Movement

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This media gallery from INDEPENDENT LENS: "Birth of a Movement" introduces students to the controversial silent film The Birth of a Nation. Historians and journalists discuss the plot of the film—a historically inaccurate retelling of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The support materials help students and teachers consider the film as propaganda and identify the techniques it uses to promote white supremacy.      

A Community of People Now | American Masters: Bill T. Jones: A Good Man

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In this segment from the documentary American Masters: Bill T. Jones: A Good Man, the creative process continues for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in the creation of a dance-theater piece about Abraham Lincoln. Bill T. Jones notes the current trend of artists creating work independent of the restrictions of previous generations. In an effort to advance the performance while mirroring the trend, Jones decides to take away some of the focus from the Lincoln family story to include the personal stories of dancers within the company.

Bluegrass Breakdown

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Bluegrass was pioneered by Bill Monroe, a mandolin player in the 1930s, who built on the Old Time Music tradition. It was developed around the same time that African-American jazz musicians developed bebop, and some people considered it "white jazz." Unlike Old Time Music, where everyone was welcomed in the performing of the music, bluegrass showcased professional musicians possessing a high-level of skill and technique. Bluegrass relied on the advent of technology (microphones, radio, and recordings) to gain popularity throughout the country. Bluegrass carried the sounds and subject matter of Old Time Music, but had the feel of something hard-driving and contemporary. This clip provides a glimpse at the impact of the banjo on Bluegrass style and history. Discussion questions are provided to support the video.

Medicine Shows

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In rural areas and small towns, travelling medicine shows set up shop and provided local residents with a whole range of entertainment to help sell a variety of medicinal cures for ailments. These medicine shows and the Vaudeville theaters found in towns and cities represented a wide range of musical and performance styles. This video provides a quick depiction of Medicine Shows, where the healthiest tonic found was said to be the music from the banjo, over all the other herbs and medicines. In the supporting lesson, students plan their own medicine show.

Hear Our Voice

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This Slavery by Another Name education unit focuses on examining the use of music and poetry to reveal the hopes and frustrations of those impacted by forced labor. Students will interpret field hollers and a chain gang song. Students will also analyze songs from popular artists of the early twentieth century who produced music about the changing work dynamics as the country moved further into the industrialization period.

The Revivalist

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Pete Seeger's contributions to the banjo music industry are described in this video, and the banjo is explained as a metaphor for the working class people, the underdogs. In the supporting lesson plans, students examine the life and influence of a major folk singer from the era and commemorate his contributions to music and society. Students will also create an advertisement and short press release for an upcoming Black Banjo Gathering.

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