Rock and Roll: An American Story Begins Field Testing

Buddy Guy and James Hetfield

On October 1st, 85 carefully selected field testers were given access to the RRAS website and began teaching the first classes based on the RRAS curriculum. These teachers come from classrooms around the country and abroad, and teach across the disciplines: social studies, English language arts, general music, American history, and even a few math teachers. We have teachers testing the curriculum in high schools and middle schools, as well as some elementary schools, libraries, and boys homes. The response has been encouraging. Here is what some teachers are saying:

John, California "Last week I covered some of "Fear of the American Teenager" and the beginning of "The Teen Idols." So far the way the lessons are structured, the kids have been interacting and thinking about the material. I've been happily surprised by some of the connections they've made, specifically about some of the parallels between teenagers (and the misconceptions of them and their music) in the 1950 and the teenagers of today."

Gwen, Kentucky "I am extremely impressed with the lesson plans. The planning has been done so precisely, making them very easy to follow. The audio/video content is, of course, what makes this a curriculum unlike any other!

I (a math teacher) have arranged to co-teach this material with our History teacher. We hope to use one lesson each Tuesday and Thursday through December. We started yesterday with 'The Birth of the American Teenager' and it went well. The students were very engaged in the discussion and seemed to enjoy the entire lesson. They found it ironic that the Chuck Berry song 'School Days' mentioned American history and practical math!"

Slawa, Poland "I have already used 'The Early Years: How the Beatles Become a Band' from Chapter 17. I taught it in the three consecutive groups and I am happy to say that the students' response was enthusiastic. They appreciated the fact that the materials deal with the various walks of life: psychology, history of music, fine arts and enjoyed a very easygoing approach, e.g. Steven Van Zandt's comments on 'stealing being cool' when you learn your craft.

My very first observation is that students are a bit suspicious about the idea of being taught history of Rock and Roll because they are afraid that they will be forced to listen to music they don't like or find boring. When they see that the class provides such diverse materials, they get involved more easily and enjoy it."

Robin, Colorado "At this point, I've used the Beatles Hamburg Years lesson and the Roots of Soul lessons with my 7th grade music students. It's very comprehensive! I only have these kids for one quarter, so we have to keep moving, but it looks like I could spend the entire time on just the Beatles! Good background material, helpful video clips, I like it."

Emily, MA [Teaching the Roots of Soul lesson] "Students loved defining soul and came up with deep and interesting connections between the different meanings and connotations of the word "soul." They also LOVED the video selections. There were many "OHHHH!!!! I love this song" type comments all period. Comparing the songs worked well to show them the roots of soul music. We had a great deal of class discussion…and the kids really enjoyed the lesson today. One student said, literally, 'This is the best class I've ever taken in my life!'"

Karen, California "I think this lesson for this group was successful for many reasons. First, they've never have had this type of curriculum. It was new and exciting. Second, they were so appreciative. It was wonderful to hear and feel, 'Thank you so much! Can we do more? When's the next lesson?' So, they're psyched and I'm looking forward to teaching them this material. The other reason it was successful was because it was full of good videos. Not too much teacher/school-talk, talk from the real deal, real-life on the street teachers."