Expand/Collapse Painting with Sound

Explore lesson plans and video to accompany the PBS series, Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music.

TeachRock has partnered with PBS, Higher Ground and Show of Force to create these lesson plans for the eight-part Soundbreaking series. These lessons are tailored for students in social studies, language arts, geography, science, and general music classes. Each lesson includes clips from the Soundbreaking series, archival photography, period advertising and journalism, and activities for students to experience the music-making firsthand.

The TeachRock project is an online educational resource from the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. See, where these materials and more are available free-of-charge to students and teachers everywhere.

  • The Beatles: Multitracking and the 1960s Counterculture | Lesson Plan | Soundbreaking

    Martin Engineers Control Room

    Multitrack recording machines transformed records from simply documenting a live performance to capturing creative new sounds, which a live performance could not produce. With multitracking, producers and musicians could add or remove elements from the recording. In this lesson, students learn about multitracking and how this new technology affected The Beatles, both in their records and their live performances.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Moving Faster Than the Imagination: The Evolution of Sound Recording | Lesson Plan | Soundbreaking

    Roger Waters in the Recording Studio

    Explore recording mediums used throughout the early 20th century with this lesson. Students will learn how sound waves travel, how the human brain converts those waves to recognizable sound, and how inventors captured them on wax, magnetic tape, and finally as digital information. This lesson also investigates the creative impulses and scientific developments that turned multi-track recording from a dream to a reality.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Counterculture in the 1960s US | Soundbreaking

    This clip includes images of people from the 1960s counterculture, as well as John Lennon and George Harrison discussing their participation in it.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Early Beatles Recording Sessions | Soundbreaking

    In this clip, George Martin and Brian Eno discuss the simplicity of the producer's role on early recordings.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Eurythmics & the Home Studio| Soundbreaking

    In this clip, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart describe their process of writing and recording early Eurythmics records. They preferred the intimacy of their small home studio, and Stewart experinmented with early electronic drum machines, tape machines, and synthesizers to create their unique sound.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Les Paul & Sound-on-Sound | Soundbreaking

    In this clip, Producer Don Was and musicians Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck discuss the revolutionary recording techniques of Les Paul. It includes a clip of Les Paul and Mary Ford demonstrating multitracking on a 1950s television program.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Multitracking and the Making of 'Tomorrow Never Knows' | Soundbreaking

    In this clip, a variety of musicians, producers, and writers discuss the revolutionary techniques The Beatles and George Martin used while making "Tomorrow Never Knows," including splicing tapes, using tape loops, sampling, and other unusual (for the time) methods. The record inspired many other musicians and producers, and had a profound impact on future recordings.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Pink Floyd & Dark Side of the Moon | Soundbreaking

    This clip demonstrates the approach Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd took while recording their iconic album, Dark Side of the Moon. They took advantage of the latest technology, such as sequencing machines and 16-track recording. Waters likens their process to painting, as though they were "painting with sound."
    Grades: 9-12
  • Pro Tools and the Digital Audio Workstation | Soundbreaking

    In this clip, Justin Vernon demonstrates his use of ProTools at his Digital Audio Workstation. St. Vincent describes a generation of musicians who are able to make music alone, at their computers, rather than with other musicians.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Recording Before Magnetic Tape | Soundbreaking

    Before magnetic tape was invented, recordings were live performances etched into the grooves of records, and they couldn't be corrected if there were errors; musicans had to start from the beginnning. With tape, musicans and producers had the ability to manipulate the recording by making corrections or even adding effects to make the record sound better. Although this made records sound less "life-like," magnetic tape made recording so much easier that it quickly became the standard method of recording.
    Grades: 9-12