Jan 03, 2019 2019-01-03
Steven Van Zandt—the musician, actor, and music and theater producer—is the force behind an education project that uses the history of rock music as a way of teaching US history and culture. Students learn US history through a musical lens with the help of lessons created by historians and curriculum experts that are interdisciplinary and available online for free. Years ago Van Zandt started the nonprofit Rock and Roll Forever Foundation (with a founder’s board that includes Bruce Springsteen, Bono, and Martin Scorsese) to promote music education. That’s happening through the TeachRock project, which offers free lessons and free workshops to schools and districts. More than 100 lessons, which took years to write and align with state content standards, are freely accessible online (with more in development). Teachers can go on the TeachRock site and select a grade level, academic subject, music genre, activity, and topic to look for appropriate lessons. For example, a high school history/civics lesson titled “Elvis and Race in America” delves into the question, “How did Elvis Presley’s early career reflect race relations and racial tensions in mid-1950s America?” Van Zandt’s nonprofit has partnered with education organizations, including the National Council for the Social Studies, Scholastic, the Grammy Museum, and Reelin’ in the Years (the world’s largest library of music footage).
Plus: As part of his education focus, Van Zandt is on a Teacher Solidarity Tour with his band to spotlight education issues and support educators. They are touring in places where teachers went on strike this year—or considered doing so—for better pay and more resources for their schools. Teachers are invited to attend at no charge, and they can get free professional development at the events. The professional development has been created to meet the standards of the state where the band is playing.