Soundbreaking

Expand/Collapse I Am My Music


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 teachrock.org, where these materials and more are available free-of-charge to students and teachers everywhere.

  • The Short and Long of It: How 45 rmp Singles and 33 ⅓ rpm Albums Helped Shape Radio and American Culture | Lesson Plan | Soundbreaking

    Philips 45 Player advertisement

    Learn about how changes in the technology of record manufacturing effected popular music, radio, and the people who consumed both with this lesson. Here students will discuss how recorded music has changed and improved over time beginning with Thomas Edison’s phonograph in 1877. Students will learn how a record works, why a needle on a disc can record and play back music, and will investigate how these technological changes had far reaching effects. This lesson follows the 45 rpm and LP record through the airwaves of both AM and FM radio, investigating how each medium can provide a framework for historical analysis.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Consumer as Creator: How Cassette Tapes Established New Possibilities for Listener Interaction | Lesson Plan | Soundbreaking

     Grateful Dead Tape Collection

    Explore how the cassette tape was the first technology to allow the listener to record, compile and disseminate music, thereby changing the audience’s experience and relationship with music and artists. In this lesson, students will also consider how the cassette allowed individuals to express themselves through the selection, sequencing and re-packaging of commercially released music. Students will look at the Sony Walkman, the first portable cassette players and a precursor to the iPod, MP3 player, and other modern personal digital listening devices. This lesson explores the eroding boundaries between “consumer” and “producer,” and “fan” and “participant” where even the casual music fan can participate in the creative process.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • AM Radio and the Hit Single | Soundbreaking

    The hit single during was of upmost importance in the era of AM Radio. Paul Anka explains that musicians needed their singles to be played often on the radio in hopes that listeners would buy them, leading to a full album contract by the record company.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Bob Dylan and the Transition to FM Radio | Soundbreaking

    Musicians and producers describe the influence Bob Dylan had on the transition to FM radio, which allowed for longer songs and a slower pace of broadcasting.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Cassette Bootlegs and The Grateful Dead | Soundbreaking

    Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart explains how the band’s ever-changing nature and focus on live performances, rather than studio recordings, led to fans desire to record or “bootleg” their live shows.
    Grades: 9-12
  • Mixtapes | Soundbreaking

    Musicians describe how the mixtape allowed listeners to customize a listening experience and create their own “albums."
    Grades: 9-12
  • The 45 | Soundbreaking

    Musicians discuss the profound impact of the 45 record and how they were affordable to teenagers, who could play them on their own portable record players.
    Grades: 9-12
  • The 78 | Soundbreaking

    Musicians discuss the first type of record, the 78. It could only play three minutes of music on each side and had what would be considered a primitive sound, by today’s standards.
    Grades: 9-12
  • The Grateful Dead and Tape Trading | Soundbreaking

    Mickey Hart and Betty Cantor Jackson describe the culture of recording to tape and trading the Grateful Dead’s live performances.
    Grades: 9-12
  • The New Possibilities of the Cassette | Soundbreaking

    The cassette tape became popular due to its affordability, portability and the capacity to record over it. Musicians describe recording whole records or making mixtapes for their friends as a major part of their teenage lives in the 1980s and 90s.
    Grades: 9-12
  • The Walkman | Soundbreaking

    A look at the portable cassette player, the most popular of which was the Sony Walkman. The device enabled people to listen to their music anywhere and self-contained through headphones. The Walkman and other players further popularized the cassette.
    Grades: 9-12

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