Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape
Lesson 5 Music Is Business
I started at four. . . . I danced mostly when I got to first grade, which is six. . . . There was this dance at that time, they call the Sloth. And it was a dance where you take one hand and you swing and you back up your feet. Not the Michael Jackson back-up. . . .You go up and down and you would shake. . . . At one time I used to do the dance, and I'd just pick up all the money and put it in my pocket. But my daddy had me to practice at the house. "Boy, I know how you could make more money." I say, "What, Dad?" "It would be exciting if when they'd be throwing you the coins, you dance and pick up the money at the same time." So that's what I started doing for more money because it made it more exciting. "Look at him. Look at him. He can dance and pick up the money at the same time."
--Celton J. Potier, zydeco dance instructor, Lafayette Parish
The way we organized, one Saturday evening we decided we'd get a group of us together. Brother Pete and R.C. and myself. We walked to Spring Creek, and Brother Rufe was up in the swamp, fishin'. It seem like today, when it come back to me. We called him like one of the disciples called Peter, called him off the creek bank and said come down here and meet us. We had a job for him to do and we organized right there on that bridge, fifty years ago this coming August.
I called it to order, the first day we started out. We had a prayer service right there on the bridge, just the group. And then we began to get our rules together, that we was going to live by. The first and most important rule was don't let no girl or no bottle ever interfere with the group. If we be somewhere, early, sitting' around in the car before the program, if the girls come up to the car, get out! Don't never let no one-on-one be standing' around talking. If you in a bunch, laugh and talk and have fun, but don't take no seriousness to it. And if you drink, you don't sing. We didn't need you, regardless how good you was, cause we was gonna do this religious. I remember we said, "Boys, we boys now, but we got to be men to do this job."
I well remember when we sang our first church appearance in a program at Kentwood, at Sweet Home. Everybody got stalled for words, nobody could lead and there always got to be a break-off. And it fell my lot, and I remember singing "Where Jesus Lead Me, I'll Follow." And that's all it took. Now I wasn't a lead singer, but after I broke out Pete caught it, and tore house all asunder.
--John Brumfield, Bolivar Humming Four, Tangipahoa Parish
Career Education, Economics, English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies
Purpose of Lesson
This lesson stresses the importance of music to the economy of Louisiana, jobs and skills needed in the state's music industry, music industry career opportunities for students, and personal contact with people in the music industry. Students also build critical-inquiry skills by reviewing musical performances and recordings.
Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills
1. Students learn about professions in the music industry and assess the value of careers in the music industry for themselves.
2. Students consider economic aspects of the music industry in Louisiana.
3. Students gather information on local and state music industry jobs through notetaking, personal interviews, and business letter writing.
2-5 class periods
If your students will be doing fieldwork, you may need digital cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders in addition to notepads and pencils as well as appropriate fieldwork forms. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using. You can also use the Yellow Pages, festival brochures, booklets, performance and recording reviews, and posters and ads for performances and music-related businesses.
Recording Studios, Ethnographers, and Reviews
Downloading and Copyright
Background Information for the Teacher
In Louisiana, music is big business--including traditional music. This lesson deals with different jobs within the music industry, with a focus on Louisiana. Although students need to develop appreciation of musical elements and cultures, they also should consider the economics of the industry and see themselves as economic participants. Find examples of careers in the music industry in the chart below, which is duplicated for students on the Careers in Music - Letter Writing Worksheet. This chart expands on information from the ASCAP / Career Development website.
Encourage students to consider the many roles associated with the music industry so that they begin to envision career possibilities that they have not thought about before and identify people in their own regions who work in the industry.
If students want to invite a musician to
visit the class, below are some guidelines:
Review websites in Technology Connections above. Think about people in your community who might be involved in the music industry. Look in the local Yellow Pages for some of the careers listed above or sound studios, advertising agencies, billboard companies, printers. The local newspaper may have a reporter or ad salesperson who covers the music industry. The high school career counselor might be helpful. Find and clip some performance or recording reviews so that students can read the work of professional music critics. Popular magazines and local newspapers are likely sources. Older students may bring in reviews from their favorite music magazines. This lesson works well with Unit VIII Lesson 1, which emphasizes field research into careers. If students will be doing fieldwork, review Unit II.
4th Grade Activities
1. Before beginning their research, have students list all the careers they can imagine within the music industry as a pre-test.
2. After brainstorming, distribute the Careers in Music - Letter Writing Worksheet and review the different careers on the chart with students. How many were on their brainstorming lists? They should each select a career and visit websites in the Technology Connections above, as well as sites that they discover on their own, to research the profession further. Ask students to write a letter to a person working in that career using the Careers in Music - Letter Writing Checklist. The worksheet provides prompts for all of the important information to be included in the letter and a link to a Model Letter.
3. Have students stage an interview of a person applying for a position within the music industry. One person can be the employer and another the employee. They'll need to research the typical job duties associated with the position. Again, they should visit the sites in Technology Connections above, for example Occupational Outlook Handbook. Classmates should critique the interview, noting how knowledgeable the applicant is, how the employer treats the applicant, whether they would hire the person or whether they would want to work for that employer. See JobInterview.Net.
4. Assign students to read reviews of performances and recordings in class, the library, or online. (Examples can be found online: Leadbelly's Leadbelly Sings for Children and A Conscientious Depiction Of New Orleans: The Music And Mission Of HBO's Treme / Music Review). As a class, discuss what students think a music critic should look for. If you have not clipped some reviews from magazines and newspapers, ask students to search for reviews and bring them to class. Also discuss how the reviews differ from a news story and what elements make a good review. Do they want a synopsis of a performance or analysis of the music? Do they appreciate the context a critic offered on music or a performer? Have students write a journal entry on two reviews of the same performance. Have students use the Writing a Music Review to check off pertinent parts that they find in two different reviews, then ask them to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each review, and perhaps decide which one is better.
5. After evaluating other critics'
reviews, focus on having students write their own review. Begin by having
them view one of the following video clips of a traditional music
Video Clips on Louisiana Traditional Culture and write their own
reviews. Note that some performances are in public venues such as
festivals and concert halls, but others are in private settings. Select
the video clips and keep in mind whether you want to bring in other issues
related to non-commercial music, such as asking students to pay attention
to the folk group, setting, and interactions with people present. Or
choose radio broadcasts for students to critique.
As they watch or listen to a performance, students should complete the
Careers in Music - Notetaking
Worksheet to help them shape their ideas. Or they could review a
sound recording of a traditional musician. Have students transfer
information from their notes into the appropriate spaces on the Writing a Music Review
worksheet, then use them to write their own reviews. Their reviews will
follow the three-paragraph format: one paragraph on the facts of the
performance-who, what, when, where, why; another paragraph that describes
three aspects of the performance in detail; and a third paragraph that
gives the student's opinion and supporting arguments.
As they watch or listen to a performance, students should complete the Careers in Music - Notetaking Worksheet to help them shape their ideas. Or they could review a sound recording of a traditional musician. Have students transfer information from their notes into the appropriate spaces on the Writing a Music Review worksheet, then use them to write their own reviews. Their reviews will follow the three-paragraph format: one paragraph on the facts of the performance-who, what, when, where, why; another paragraph that describes three aspects of the performance in detail; and a third paragraph that gives the student's opinion and supporting arguments.
6. The Production Rubric, page 1, is a flexible assessment tool that can be used for any of the items produced in this lesson, including written documents (research, spreadsheets, resumés, surveys, etc.); artwork (pictures, posters, etc.) or performances (radio programs, skits, video productions, etc.). Share the rubric with students before they begin the assignment, and explain what will be expected for them to attain "Above Standard." The Audience Feedback Statements for Productions (page 2) can be used at your discretion to have an audience, such as the rest of the class, give feedback on a student's or group's performance.
4th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Pretend that you are an employer in the music industry and write a Want Ad for a person to fill one of the jobs that you have researched. This ad is for the Help Wanted section of a newspaper. In addition to researching the job that needs filling, read some want ads to help you write one. Contact a newspaper to learn how much it costs to run a Want Ad.
2. Draw a picture of a traditional music
festival you have attended or would like to attend. In the picture, try to
depict the music industry jobs related to a festival. Examples of some
festivals include the following:
3. Create a poster advertising an upcoming music event. You may use art supplies such as poster board and markers or create a digital poster.
8th Grade Activities
1. Assign students to interview a person working in a music career, using the Careers in Music - Interview Worksheet. They should share findings with the class. You might even invite the person to come speak to your class. Try to find someone working in traditional folk music as well as popular or classical music. See Unit II Lesson 3.
2. Identify and invite a local traditional musician or a disc jockey from a local radio show to class and so students can interview him or her about their work. Prepare for the interview in advance by reviewing Unit II Fieldwork Basics and printing out or designing appropriate forms such as the Careers in Music - Interview Worksheet.
3. Visit Louisiana Music Commission / Favorite Links to identify a webcast so students can listen to online radio shows. They should use a Listening Log - Music Around Me to help remember what they hear. After listening critically, they can produce their own radio program of traditional Louisiana music and go through all the business roles to produce it. A local radio station might allow your class to visit the studio or even use recording and editing equipment.
4. Try to identify opportunities for students to attend a live music performance, perhaps a school band concert, local festival, or religious concert. As they watch the performance, they should complete the Careers in Music - Notetaking Worksheet to help shape their ideas. Or they may review a video or sound recording of a traditional musician. The review can follow the three-paragraph format: one paragraph on the facts of the performance--who, what, when, where, why; another paragraph that describes three aspects of the performance in detail; and a third paragraph that gives the student's opinion and supporting arguments.
5. Ask students to determine how much money they spend in the music industry: recordings, posters, T-shirts, souvenirs, fan magazines, tickets to live events, the percentage of cable TV fee spent watching MTV and other music shows, the percentage of Internet fees spent listening to music online. What percentage, if any, of total music industry expenditures are for traditional or revivalist folk music? Classical music? Popular music? Have students create a spreadsheet or graph to analyze their findings.
6. From the big music industry to local
traditional musicians, Internet downloading raises essential ethical and
financial issues. Have students choose roles and debate legalities,
ethics, and economics of downloading. Some roles include:
7. Some students may want to research the history of one of Louisiana's legendary recording studios: J.D. Miller's in Crowley. Ask them first to visit Blues Bytes and the Excello Story for a brief discussion of the organization in Nashville and its association with J.D. Miller, then do additional research on their own. Ask them to select one song recorded by Excello, play it for the class, and give a brief oral presentation on some of the history of the song, the artist, and the recording session.
8. Other Louisiana-based recording studio owners include Floyd Soileau from Ville Platte (Swallow Records and other labels); Stan "The Record Man" Lewis from Shreveport (Jewel/Paula Records); Eddie Shuler of Goldband Records in Lake Charles; Mira Smith of Ram Records in Lake Charles; Carrol Rachou of La Louisianne Records in Lafayette; and Cossimo Matassa, who had a recording studio in New Orleans. See J. D. Miller and Floyd Soileau: A Comparison of Two Small Town Recordmen of Acadiana, All Music Guide / Stan Lewis (Type "Stan Lewis" in the search bar website), and Louisiana Music Hall of Fame / Cosimo Matassa. The Louisiana Hayride website includes information about Ram Records. If you want students to use these resources and they are written above their reading level, use Adaptation Strategies to build lessons around them.
Students may expand this activity and research the founders of the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Arhoolie Records, and Rounder Records, which records traditional Louisiana music. Moses Asche founded Folkways Recordings as an "encyclopedia of sound." In 40 years, it produced nearly 2,200 albums, documenting music, spoken word, and other sounds made in the United States and around the globe. In 1987 the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acquired Folkways to ensure the survival of those recordings and the creation of new traditional recordings. Chris Strachwitz founded Arhoolie Records. See Mix Magazine / Arhoolie Records' Chris Strachwitz and National Endowment for the Arts / National Heritage Fellowships / Chris Strachwitz. Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin, and Marian Leighton-Levy founded Rounder Records.
9. Assign students to visit the websites Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip, and Harry Smith Archives / Anthology of American Music / Harry Smith to familiarize themselves with these famous music ethnographers and folklorists: Ralph Peer, John and Alan Lomax, and Harry Smith. After they read the biographies, they should team up with two other students, and each should select one of the ethnographers to research further. When researching, they should look for information, in particular, that discusses how the ethnographers may have altered the music for popular audiences. After they complete their presentations, they might prepare a skit and play the part of the person they researched. Have the famous people come together to discuss their lives, their work, and the consequences of the work.
10. The Production Rubric is a flexible assessment tool that can be used for any of the items produced in this lesson, including written documents (research, spreadsheets, resumés, surveys, etc.); artwork (pictures, posters, etc.) or performances (radio programs, skits, video productions, etc.). Share the rubric with students before they begin the assignment, and explain what will be expected for them to attain "Above Standard." Audience Feedback Statement for Productions (page 2) can be used at your discretion to have an audience, such as the rest of the class, give feedback on a student's or group's performance.
8th Explorations and Extensions
1. Search online to find the titles of ten
books on getting started in the music industry. Prepare an annotated
bibliography based on what you find. See the Louisiana
Folklife Bibliography for an example of an annotated bibliography.
Make sure you cite sources properly. For Modern Language Association
format, you would use the following
2. Divide into teams and, after researching the issue, debate downloading music off the Internet, including ethical and economic issues. Survey students in your school to learn how many have downloaded music and what their opinions about this practice are. In the survey, include questions that address the topic from the performer's perspective: Is the performer being treated fairly? Receiving payment for work? Summarize results in a spreadsheet or on a chart or write a persuasive paragraph for or against downloading music. For background information, use Google and search "downloading music issue." Courtney Love Does The Math provides a good introduction to one side of the issue, while Hilary Rosen's article, Rosen Responds to Janis Ian: Misinformation and Mischaracterizations presents the other. More information is available at Educational CyberPlayGround, Music Area (Select Music and Copyright Law) and Beyond the Commons. Teachers, if these are written above your students' reading ability, refer to Adaptation Strategies for ways to adjust and modify them to levels that students can understand.
3. If you are interested in following a music-based curriculum in college, research bachelor degree programs around the country online or in the school or public library. Report findings to the class. (Note: there is a music business program in Louisiana at Loyola University.) Also research a music career that doesn't require a college degree and compare the pros and cons for each.
4. Write a job description or resumé for any job in the music industry.
5. With a team of students, pretend you are planning production of an event such as a festival of regional traditional music. Decide what jobs are most important and create a list of job descriptions and a work plan. Divide work to produce things such as publicity materials, a program or booklet, interpretative signs for various stages, newspaper articles or reviews, technical requirements, sound technicians, musicians, announcers, a budget, and an evaluation or audience survey to see how well your event went.
6. Shoot a video that includes an interview with a musician, dancer, or someone in the music business. Add your own commentary to the footage. For instruction on doing a class video project, use Learning from Your Community: A Curriculum Guide for Grades 4-8.
8. Research copyright and downloading websites in Technology Connections above and prepare a survey to get opinions on the legalities, ethics, and economics of downloading from different age groups. Make a graph of your findings.