Musical Themes

  • Aloha Music: An Introduction to the Ukulele

    Join Manhattan School of Music teaching artist Jake Hertzog for an exciting and interactive look at Hawaii’s quintessential musical instrument. Students discover the ukulele’s unique history through live musical examples and media rich tools. Next, an overview of the instrument fundamentals and technique gives students a handful of common chord patterns and a closer look at the workings of the ukulele. Optional: Jake can instruct the students on their own classroom ukuleles, performing popular songs together over videoconference! A fun, jam-packed program on music and culture!

    Grades: 3-5
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • American Music: Tonality, Tradition, and Innovation

    The 20th century has been a time of experimentation and development across all art forms. We can see this in the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollack, the pop art of Andy Warhol, and the avant-garde dance of Merce Cunningham. Similarly, American music shifted its focus from its folk roots to acoustic experimentation. This program explores how legendary American composers, including Aaron Copland and George Gershwin, lay the foundations for the techniques adopted by experimental composers such as Henry Cowell and John Cage. Teaching artist Dr. Daniela Bracchi uncovers a range of social influences that sparked this movement, which has influenced the current trend of fusion between music, visual arts and/or dance. Students will observe the performance of live extended instrumental techniques, and will also create their own pieces involving new auditory possibilities. A jam-packed interactive program designed to inspire students to explore new artistic possibilities.

    Grades: 9-12
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • American Voices: Song and Citizenship in the U.S.A.

    What do the songs and music you listen to say about you? What does a musical artist’s music say about themselves? Join MSM Distance Learning for “American Voices: Song and Citizenship in the U.S.A.” in which we explore American song throughout the 20th century, and how songwriters have used their music to foster social change or promote American cultural and national identity, within the backdrop of major political and cultural movements of the 20th Century, including the Gilded Age, Progressivism, WWII, the Civil Rights Era, and Globalism. Live and historic performances ranging from Bel Canto Opera, New Orleans Jazz, Gospel, and Pop Music will be presented in this not-to-miss exploration of American culture as seen through the lens of history and music.

    Grades: 11-12
    60 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Classical Meets Pop: How the Two Fall in Love

    Join pianist Dr. Amir Khosrowpour in an informative and humorous discussion about what elements categorize music to be classical or to be pop. With the aid of live piano performances and recorded examples, students will define musical elements, learn historical contexts, and discover how the two seemingly disparate genres share the same language. Critical thinking activities also include the analysis of texts from both time periods. Designed to engage young audiences through examples of hip-hop and rock, students will simultaneously increase their ability to relate to the classical music of Mozart and Schubert, among others.

    Grades: 8-12
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Duke Ellington: America’s Composer

    Regarded as one of America's most prolific and important composers, Duke Ellington formed an important cornerstone in the foundation of American music. Join pianist Michael Cabe and his trio as they lead students on an interactive exploration of his life and times. Students will listen to live performances of his incomparable music, learn all about his legendary band, and discover new and exciting facts about the man himself.

    Grades: 4-8
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $275
  • East Meets West

    Percussionist Rohin Khemani and saxophonist Max Wild take elementary schoolchildren on a cultural journey that is as educational as it is entertaining. Using the exotic combination of Indian tabla and jazz saxophone as the basis for their conversation in rhythm and melody, Rohin and Max create an interactive experience that explains some basic musical expressions of Eastern and Western culture. By observing these different approaches, students also learn the concept of Music as a common and universal language.

    Grades: 1-5
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $275
  • From Hamilton to West Side Story: Identifying Our American Experience through Song

    What do a Founding Father, the Pacific Theater of WWII, and a mid-century Puerto Rican street gang all have in common? Find out in MSM Distance Learning’s “From Hamilton to West Side Story: Identifying the American Experience through Song.” In this night on the town, we’ll take a trip on NYC’s “Great White Way” where we’ll examine three preeminent American musicals, Richard Roger’s South Pacific, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit Hamilton. Evaluating the historical context and socio-cultural issues in each musical, students will tackle the overt and underlying themes as a means to reflecting on their own cultural and personal identities. In addition to live performance by an MSM DL Teaching Artist, students will collaboratively compose and perform their own historical rap! Join us and discover what makes the American Musical a defining part of American culture and identity.

    Grades: 11-12
    60 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Golden Years: Music of the Gold Rush Era

    During tough times, music and culture can flourish. Take a closer look inside the life of the mid-19th Century California gold miner, and how they expressed their disappointment, homesickness, and pride through song. MSM teaching artist Andrew Shillito performs and leads critical discussions on songs from the era. Students will gain an insightful perspective into the life on America’s western frontier.

    Grades: 7-8
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Hopping with the Harp

    Join an MSM teaching artist for an interactive exploration of one of music's most beautiful instruments! While learning about the workings of the classical harp, students will acquire an understanding of sound and music through interactive games and movement-based activities.

    Grades: Pre-K
    30-40 minutes or one regular class period
    $200
  • Journey Through Jazz *OUR MOST REQUESTED PROGRAM*

    A Manhattan School of Music teaching artist trio take students on a field trip through jazz in this presentation. Come along for the ride as the musicians introduce their instruments (piano, bass and drums) and each of their “roles” in the trio. Hear them talk about the “rules” of jazz, and what happens when those rules are broken. Listen as they play familiar musical examples to demonstrate some common jazz styles. An interactive and exciting way to learn about some of the basic sights and sounds of jazz, with live musicians!

    Grades: 4-8
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $275
  • Latin Jazz: The Spanish Tinge

    Have you ever wanted to know about the rhythms behind the merengue, salsa, cha cha cha, or mambo? Here's your chance to learn the beats of your favorite dance music while our talented teaching artist trio turn you into Latin jazz experts. This interactive program discusses the musical and cultural origins that make this style of jazz so distinctive. A toe-tapping exploration of this irresistible style!

    Grades: 6-9
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $275
  • Music and Literature: How the Two Arts Meet

    An innovative exploration into the connection between language and music. Teaching artist Dr. Taisiya Pushkar leads a lively discussion designed to engage middle school students, comparing literary examples such as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels with classical composer of the 19th century. Students examine song settings and programmatic pieces, and with guided help, will learn to recognize poetry within the music. Preliminary questions and texts are given in advance as a starting point for this fascinating and informative dialog.

    Grades: 7-8
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Music and Nationalism: Sounds of Change

    Join expert teaching artist, Dr. Taisiya Pushkar, as she traces the emergence of nationalism during the 19th century in four different countries: Germany, Finland, Norway, and Czechoslovakia. This program discusses where the need for nationalistic music originated, what conditions cultivated the artist as an agent of social change, and what world changes were made through composers’ work. Through live performance, video and audio clips, Taisiya explains the conditions leading to the development of the sentiment of nationalism in each country and defines the elements that make up nationalistic music. Students will be encouraged to develop their analytical skills by examining the music examples and discussing their own sense of nationalism.

    There are no pre-conference materials required. This interactive presentation aligns to National Standards in Social Sciences (World History), in Era 7: An Age of Revolutions 1750-1914, and Era 8: A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement 1900-1945.

    Grades: 9-12
    Length of Program: 45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250 per session
  • Music of the Cold War

    At a time when two nations competed on all fronts to assert their superiority, music was on the front line. Teaching artist Dr. Taisiya Pushkar explores the ways in which music defined the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, from government propaganda to dissenting critiques of the times - with live performance, rare news footage and engaging discussion. A fascinating look into history through music!

    Grades: 9-12
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Music, Melody & Me

    A creative and hands-on educational unit designed to supplement elementary school curriculum in the basic building blocks of music. Two optional pre-conference lessons engage students in constructing their own musical instruments, and utilize their critical thinking schools to discover different sound qualities. The videoconference is a spirited exchange: showing students how sounds are fashioned into music, through the transformation of their own motivic ideas into spontaneous improvisatory compositions. These concepts are also dynamically illustrated by talented Manhattan School of Music teaching artists. Video excerpts demonstrate how great western composers use motivic design to create their own compositions. Students face the challenge in the post-videoconference lesson of creating melodies of their own.

    Grades: 3-5
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Musical Math

    Fractions are all around us, especially in music! Teaching artist Dr. Amir Khosrowpour reveals the mathematical secrets behind music, with interactive, audio-visual activities and fun mathematical models. Using these math exercises, students create music together on the spot. The program teaches fraction equivalence and reinforces quantitative reasoning, in a brand new way!

    Grades: 4-5
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250 per session
  • Opera & Me: From School to Stage

    Join an MSM teaching artist as they take students on a virtual journey through their musical life as an opera singer. They trace their career path, starting with their own roots to their days as a Conservatory student at Manhattan School of Music, leading to performance opportunities in New York City and on the international stage. Joined by a pianist, the teaching artist performs classic opera arias, musical theatre show tunes, and even some familiar kids' songs! With an emphasis on interactive engagement, this course introduces vocal exercises, offers performance tips, and invites on-the-spot student participation in an opera aria performance. Join us for an inspirational program detailing the life and career of a young musician, which will encourage students in the pursuit of their own aspirations.

    Grades: 8-12
    45 minutes or one regular class period or one regular class period
    $250
  • Singing Legends, Dancing Lions: An Exploration of Chinese Music Traditions

    Travel to the Far East for an exciting exploration of Chinese music traditions. Teaching artist Jing Yang reveals the secrets behind Beijing Opera and the Lion Dance with live music, engaging videos, interactive movement and more. Students will learn Chinese words and characters. A perfect program for classes looking for an enriching cultural journey.

    Grades: 2-4
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Story of a Composer: George Gershwin

    The 1920s saw a young nation, now free from war, finally able to develop its own rich culture. Major cities became centers for innovation in music, shunning European classicism for a freedom that was strictly American. It was out of this ideal from which the most famous of our composers, George Gershwin, emerged. A Manhattan School of Music teaching artist informs students of the historical and social contexts of his compositions, and guides students to discover the features of classical and jazz idioms incorporated into his musical scores. Live performance and analysis of Gershwin's most well-known works, including Porgy and Bess, and Rhapsody in Blue, provide students with a creative opportunity to utilize their critical thinking skills.

    Grades: 7-12
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Swinging Through History: The Anatomy of a Pop Song

    Many students of all ages love to listen to pop songs, but do they know that pop music has its roots in jazz music from the “Swing Era”? Join saxophonist Vince Nero as he takes a journey back in time, linking historical and social aspects of America in the 1930’s and 40’s to the popular music of its day. Shedding light on the shared characteristics between jazz and pop music, this interactive program features historical video excerpts, sound clips by modern pop artists including Adele and Beyonce, as well as live instrumental demonstrations. A lively and factual videoconference designed to inspire students through a deeper understanding of American music.

    Grades: 5-8
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • Talking Drums: The Music of Early Africa and India

    Travel with world percussionist Rohin Khemani on a journey back in time to the beginnings of music in Africa and India. This interactive performance and presentation traces early human migration to illustrate how music has played an essential part in the development of civilization. Drawing from an authentic collection of African and Indian instruments, students hear these instruments played, learn about the intended uses of music in these regions, and develop a greater understanding and awareness of the cultural context of music as society emerges.

    Grades: 9-12
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • The History of Jazz: Swinging Through Time

    In this presentation, a Manhattan School of Music teaching artist trio will trace jazz from its beginnings in New Orleans, through its growth in the big cities of New York and Chicago, and on to its success on the international stage. Students will interact live with the musicians during an in-depth look at one of America's own artforms. They will learn about America’s cultural and social history reflected in the music of ragtime, swing, bebop, and cool jazz.

    Grades: 3-8
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $275
  • The Sounds of Classical Music Today

    Join presenter Dr. Amir Khosrowpour as he debunks the popular myth that classical music is “old and boring.” This interactive videoconference focuses on music written since 1950 through the present, ranging from experimenters John Cage and Karl Stockhausen to pop artists Björk and Radiohead. Students will discover the fresh, exciting, and outrageous sounds of what contemporary classical music really is, leading to a greater appreciation and understanding of the Great Composers.

    Grades: 8-12
    45 minutes or one regular class period
    $250
  • ¡Fiesta! Music and Culture of Spain and Latin America

    Join MSM teaching artist Ana Garcia on a one or two-part cultural journey through her home country of Spain, and then through Latin America! Filled with live music performance, media-rich examples, and interactive demonstrations, ¡Fiesta! celebrates rich cultural traditions of Spain and Latin America through music, dance, poetry, literature and the works of leading ‘nationalist’ composers. Schedule ¡Fiesta! in English, Spanish, or both, and for a wide range of age groups and class disciplines.

    Grades: 9-12
    Two 60-minute sessions
    $250 Session