Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ragtime and the lost art of piano playing

In 9th grade, students have been learning about advances during the Progressive Movement.  They also listened to the piano music of Scott Joplin that captured the "Ragtime" era.  The music was catchy and interesting, and many students had heard it before.  The music of Scott Joplin is featured in a famous film from the 1970's--THE STING.

Learning to play the piano and piano lessons were considered a mark of class during this era.  To have your student in piano lessons meant that the family had enough money to spare....and a piano in their house.  A piano was considered an equalizer, just as a nice car is considered that today.  For many, piano playing ability meant that they were enjoying the popular music of the day.

There are some wonderful ragtime tunes that one can listen to on youtube.  There are also simple versions and more complicated versions of Scott Joplin's music.  His music represented an emerging middle class that had access to pianos and victrolas (early record playings).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bone China and the Buffalo

Students in 9th grade history have just finished their essay on Settling the West.  They have learned about the reservation system and the Indian Schools.  They also learned about the role the Federal Government plays in administering the Indian School system, including Chemawa Indian School, here in Salem, Oregon.

They read many primary documents about the extermination and decline of the buffalo.  After the buffalo was hunted and eliminated from the plains...the gathering of the bones began.

Huge cartloads of bones were shipped back pickers who now replaced the buffalo hunters of only a few years earlier.  The bones were then shipped overseas to factories where they were crushed and processed into delicate china, that would be labeled "bone china."  It is particularly disheartening to think of the wild buffalo, the majestic creature of the plains, ending its days this way.

Students will also revisit the end of the West when we learn about Ernest Thompson Seton, and his complicated relationship with the wolves of New Mexico as a Bounty Hunter/Artist.