Dr. Carol Reynolds, in her program Exploring America’s Musical Heritage Through Art, Literature, and Culture, connects music and the arts to American history, culture, geography, and far more so that we can understand historical events with new eyes and new ears.
A music history professor for 21 years, Professor Carol explains in Unit 1 that, “Music, a part of every culture, accompanies the things that are important to us. It documents real life, it animates our work, instructs our children, and preserves our memories. There is history recorded in music, not a dry list of dates and names, but an expression of real life, an almanac of all that mattered in the lives of real people, our grandparents and beyond. They speak to us in their music as if they are here today.”
In Exploring America’s Musical Heritage, Professor Carol provides an overview of the vast and varied music of America. She travelled the country to talk to 38 music and art historians, literary scholars, musicians, and specialists with wide-ranging expertise. Live musical performances, art work, photographs, and historical landmarks are featured along with interviews and Professor Carol’s commentary tying everything together and connecting the music and art to the ideas, philosophies, and events of the day.
From the music of Native Americans and Puritans to Negro Spirituals and jazz to Broadway and Elvis Presley, Dr. Carol emphasizes three themes: Regionalism (who settled where), Legacy (the cultural tradition that defines us), and Preservation (how we value the legacy).
The course is divided into eight 30-minute units:
Unit 1: Regionalism, Legacy and Preservation
Unit 2: Contrasting Traditions of the Puritans and Moravians (1620-1760)
Unit 3: America’s Founders and Their Arts (1700-1800)
Unit 4: Architecture, Soundscapes and New Directions (1780-1850)
Unit 5: The Arts Shaped by Conflict (1820-1865)
Unit 6: Americans on the Move (1710-1880)
Unit 7: Native America Revisited, Immigration and American Theater (1850-1920)
Unit 8: Exploring the New and Preserving the Old (1900-1960)
Educators (both in a school and in the home) will appreciate the teacher helps available on the website: www.exploringheritage.com. Professor Carol provides outlines for each unit, discussion questions (which could also make great paper topics), and links to explore further the people and events covered in each unit.
This program is an excellent supplement to any American history program, both providing new information and covering standard American history topics from a different perspective.
I particularly appreciate the attention Professor Carol paid to lesser known topics, like the music of the jailhouse and the chain gang. And of course I was delighted that she covered the music and the culture of my own much-neglected people, the Acadians.
It’s obvious that a lot of thought and care went into the making of this program—both in the very high production quality and the level of scholarship. And Dr. Carol’s passion and clear love of her subject is sure to excite any student.
“Children today aren’t routinely taught the creative legacy of our forefathers. And so much that is good and important about that heritage has begun to fade,” explains Professor Carol.
This fine work will help parents and teachers preserve that which is worth preserving.
Approximate Running Time: 4 hours