Lesson Plans

Below is a list of lesson plans created by the Summer Scholars who have attended our NEH Summer Institute For Teachers. Select the title to view the lesson. Downloadable PDFs are available from the lesson plan page.



Lesson Title

Song Title(s)



New England’s Annoyances

“New England’s Annoyances”

colony, hardship, Pilgrims, settlers


Murder Ballads

“The Cruel Ship’s Carpenter”

“Pretty Polly”

“The Willow Tree”

“Tom Dooley”

“Frankie and Johnnie”

“Zeb Tourney’s Girl”

Romeo, Juliet, death, love, ballad

1760-1820 War of 1812

“Constitution and the Guerrier”

“Battle of Baltimore”

“Star Spangled Banner”

“The Eighth of January”

“The Battle of New Orleans”

"Hunters of Kentucky"

War of 1812, Battle of Baltimore, Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson's campaign


The Liberty Song

“The Liberty Song”

“Free America”

“You Simple Bostonians”

“The Burrowing Yankees”

Boston, patriotism, protest, Revolution, war

1792-1867 The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery in America

"No More Auction Block for Me”

“The Desponding Negro”

“Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child”

“Wade in the Water”

“Old Black Mammy’s Lullaby”

“Ol' Man Satan”

“Down around the Coast of La Barbaree”

“Por ser mi divina luz” (For Being My Divine Light)

“Soy Escalvo de Jesus (I am a Slave of Jesus)”

“Old Marse John”

Slavery, Middle Passage


Presidential Election of 1824

“Little Know Ye Who’s Coming”

“Hunters of Kentucky”

Manifest Destiny, west, rural, urban, expansion, candidate

1800-1860 Moby Dick

"What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor?"

"Paddy Lay Back"

"Paddy Doyle’s Boots" "Dead Horse & Fiddler’s Green"

"Roll the Old Chariot Along"

Moby Dick, Language Arts, Sea chanties

Slavery from the Colonial Period until the Civil War

"Amazing Grace"

"Liberty Minstrel"

"Follow the Drinking Guord"


Middle Passage, Slavery, African-Americans
1800-1860 The Role of African Americans in the Development of South Carolina’s Culture “Steal ‘Way to Jedus” Slavery, African-Americans, South Carolina, Gullah


Beyond the Gold Rush

“Seeing for the Elephant”

“The Old Settler’s Song”

“he’s the Man for Me”

California, settlers, west


de Tocqueville or Jackson’s America

“Oh, Shenandoah”

Manifest Destiny, west, rural, urban, expansion


Hard Times Come Again No More

“Hard Times Come Again No More”

Manifest Destiny, west, rural, urban, expansion, economy, political cartoons


Slave Code Songs

“Follow the Drinking Gourd”

“O Canaan”

“Walk in the Water”

“Steal Away”

slaves, escape, free, Underground Railroad


Patting Juba

“Patting Juba”

dance, slaves, games

1800-present Immigration/Migration Songs

"Trail of Tears"

"El Corrido de Georgio Cortez "

"Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child"

"No Irish Need Apply"

“Twelve Hundred More”


Music, immigration, migration, Native Americans, Irish Americans, African-Americans, Chinese Americans, Middle-Eastern Americans
1800s-present day Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement


"I Want A New Drug"

"All Too Well"

"I Saw"

"Party O’Clock"     

"On the Floor"

"Star Spangled Banner"

ESL, plagiarizing, paraphrasing, and copyright infringement.

Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny through the Mexican-American War

"Bellos Recuerdos (Beautiful Memories)"

"Remember the Alamo"

“Uncle Sam’s Song to Miss Texas”

"Lone Star Trail"


Manifest Destiny, Texas, migration, Mexican American War
1830s - 1950s Little House on the Prairie

“Buy A Broom”

“Camptown Races”

“Oh, Susanna”

“Buffalo Gals”

“Old Dan Tucker”


“Pop! Goes The Weasel”

“A Railroad Man For Me” “Barbary Allen”

“Bonny Doon”

“There Is A Happy Land”

“Captain Jinks”

“Uncle John”

“Irish Washerwoman”

“The Arkansas Traveler”

Little House on the Prairie, rural life, folk music, Westward Expansion, Geneal music
1840s-present Women in History

"Run the World (Girls)"

"I Am Woman"

"Rights of a Woman"

“Wives and Lovers”

“He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”



Suffrage, Women's Rights, Feminism
1840s-present Women's Rights

“When Girls Can Vote”

“Rosie the Riveter”


Suffrage, National Organization of Women, Equal Rights, Declaration of Sentiments, Temperance, 19th Amendment


Dream Deferred

“Dream Montage”

“Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel”

African Americans, civil rights, racism, Reconstruction


Origin of Taps


“Lights Out”

Civil War, soldiers, bugle, war


Hard Crackers Come Again No More

“Hard Crackers Come Again No More”

“Army Grub”

“Goober Peas”

Civil War, soldiers, hardship,, war

1860-1876 The Irish Immigrant Experience

“No Irish Need Apply”

“Thousands are Sailing to Amerikay”

“The Irish Volunteer”

Immigration, discrimination, Civil War
1860-1876 Civil War & Reconstruction

“Oh, Freedom!”

“Future Blues”

“Maple Leaf Rag”

“Camptown Races”

Reconstruction, Jim Crow Laws, African Americas
1860-1876 Before Lincoln:  The Kansas-Nebraska Act, James Buchanan, and Bleeding Kansas

"The Freeman's Song"       

"The Kansas Emigrant Song"        

"The Great Baby Show"      

“The White House Chair”

“John Brown’s Body/The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Kansas-Nebraska act, slavery, John Brown, abolition
1860s-present Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers

“The Charade”

“Go Down Moses”

“Mississippi Goddam”


Civil Rights, African Americans, non-violent protests, police violence
1870-1900 The Populist Movement

“Where There’s A Will There’s A Way”

“The Kansas Fool”

“The Hand That Holds the Bread”

“Dad’s Old Silver Dollar Is Good Enough For Me”

“Goodbye, My Party, Goodbye”

“Upon A Cross of Gold”

Industrialization, Populist Movement


Historical Disasters/Chicago Fire

“Billow of Fire”

“Lost and Saved”

“passing through the Fire”

urban, myth, hardship

1870-1900 Songs of the KKK


"Ku Klux Klan"

“The Old Rugged Cross”

“The Bright Fiery Cross”

“Mystic City”

“When Will the Pope Come?”

“Battle Hymn”

“The Church in the Wildwood”


Ku Klux Klan, race, ethnicity, immigration, identity, religion, Reconstruction


Cowboy Songs and Ballads

“The Old Chisholm Trail”

“Whoopie Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogie”

“The Cowboy’s Lament”

“Little Joe the Wrangler”

“The Yellow Rose of Texas”

“The Red River Valley”

west, expansion, hardship, love


Thousands are Coming to Amerikay

“Thousands are Sailing to Amerikay”

“El Deportado”

immigration, discrimination


The Bowery

“The Bowery”

urban, hardship, tenement


Social Issues of the Industrialized United States

“Babies in the Mill”

“Lowell Factory Girls”

“Keep Women in Their Sphere”

“Freedom’s Anthem”

“Go It While You’re Young”

“The Wife’s Lament”

“I Don’t Want Your Millions Mister”

“And Now Assemble”

labor, economy, hardship, urban, suffrage, temperance, Progressivism, industry


No Irish Need Apply

“No Irish Need Apply”

immigration, discrimination

1870-1900 Immigration and the Industrial Movement

“Immigrant Song”

“Eighteen Hundred and Ninety One”

"Hard Times Come Again No More"

"No Irish Need Apply"

“The Coal Miner’s Song in Kyushu”

Music, immigration, industrial revolution


Coming to America

“Thousands are Sailing to Amerikay”

“Ikh Hob Dikh Lib, Amerika (I Love You America)”

“Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor”

immigration, technology, Ellis Island


Gilded Age and Liberty

“Future America”

“New American Anthem”

expansion, economy, politics, political cartoons


Songs of the Western Frontier

“Oh California”

“The Old Chisholm Trail”

“Home on the Range”

“I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”

west, expansion, California


John Henry Blues

“John Henry Blues”

labor, economy, transportation, technology


Songs that Tell the Story of the Railroad

“Drill Ye Tarriers Drill”

labor, economy, transportation, expansion

1870s-1938 Sounds of the American West: Cowboys and Copland


“Git Along Little Dogies”

“The Chisholm Trail”

“Goodbye, Old Paint”

“Great Grand-dad”

excerpts from Copland’s Billy the Kid and Rodeo: “The Open Prairie,” “Street on a Frontier Town,” and “Hoedown”. 

Music, American Frontier, Aaron Copland, Westward Expansion
1870s-1940s Transportation and Settlement Patterns

“Crossing the Grand Sierras”

“(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66”

“The Erie Canal”


Westward Expansion, settlement patterns, automobile, Erie Canal
1880-present Racial issues told through Broadway Musicals

"Deep River"

"Ol Man River"

"The Entertainer"

"Hard Times Come Again No More"

"Free at Last"


Race, immigration, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Civil Rights, minstrelsy

"The Farmer is the Man"

"Old MacDonald had a Farm"

"Brown-Eyed Children of the Sun"


farming, immigration, rural to urban migration
1880s-1963 Corridos

"El Corrido de Kiansas"

"El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez"

"Corrido de Joaquin Murrieta"

"El Corrido del Padre de un Soldado"

"El corrido 720  Ayer y Hoy N.M.’s 720 Bound for War"

"El corrido de Daniel Fernandez"

"El Homenaje a John F. Kennedy"

"Corrido de Cesar Chavez"


disenfranchisement, immigration, cultural differences, Vietnam, Kennedy’s assassination


The Homestead Strike v2

“The Homestead Strike”

labor, industry, hardship


The Homestead Strike v1

“The Homestead Strike”

labor, industry, hardship


The Eight Hour Day

“Eight Hour Day”

labor, industry, hardship


Putting a Face on the Organization of Labor

“Sweet By and By”

“Joe Hill”

“The Preacher and the Slave”

labor, industry, hardship


Understanding Legends in History

“Heebie Jeebies”

“To Be In Love”

Jazz Age, myth, technology, dance


America After WWI

“How Ya Gonna Keep Them Down on the Farm”

“The Charleston Rag”

“She’s Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage”

soldiers, dance, African Americans, Jazz Age


African American Art

“Black and Blue”


musical, racism, discrimination

1890-1930 American Dream

“(If You Ain’t Got the) Do-Re-Mi”

“Big Rock Candy Mountain”

“We’re in the Money”

“Remember My Forgotten Man"

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

“Sunny Cal”

“Fanfare for the Common Man"

"The American Dream"


Great Depression


Steel Unit


“The Trouble Down at Homestead”

“Father Was Killed by the Pinkerton Man”

“Twenty Inch Mill”

“Steel Mill Blues”

“Pittsburgh Town”



labor, industry, hardship, economy


Iconography of Trains

“Iron Horse”

“Calling Trains”

“Train Blues”

“A Long Way to Travel”

Water For Elephants, symbolism, empathy


Iconography of Hoboes

“Beans, Bacon, and Gravy”

“Big Rock Candy Mountain”

“Train Narration”

“A Long Way to Travel”

Water For Elephants, symbolism, empathy


Iconography of Circuses

“Hannibal Hope and the Circus Parade”

“A Trip to the Circus”

“The Passing of the Circus Parade”

Water For Elephants, symbolism, empathy


The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties

“Suddenly I Saw”

“Tiny Dancer”

“Sheik of Araby”

“The Love Nest”

“Three O’Clock in the Morning”

“The Rosary”

Jazz Age, soundtracks, popular culture


The Lusitania in Music

“When the Lusitania Went Down”

foreign policy, patriotism, isolation, hardship, war

1890-1930 America Enters World War I

“Remember the Lusitania”

"I Didn't Raise My Boy to be a Soldier"

“Heatless, Meatless, Wheatless Days ”  

World War I, isolationism
1890-1930 Labor in the Progressive Era

“Let Them Wear Their Watches Fine”

“The Rebel Girl”

“Bread and Roses”


Industrialization, Labor, immigration


Labor Unions – Lawrence

“My Children are Seven in Number”

“Bread and Roses”

labor, industry, hardship, economy


Labor Unions – Homestead

“The Homestead Strike”

labor, industry, hardship, economy


Labor Unions – Flint

“There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonite”

“Women’s Auxiliary Song”

labor, industry, hardship, economy


The Stars and Stripes Forever

“The Stars and Stripes Forever”

“You’re a Grand Old Flag”

patriotism, expansion, isolation, Manifest Destiny, economy, political cartoons

1890-1930 American Identity and the Automobile

“The Little Old Ford Rambled Right Along”

Henry’s Made a Lady out of Lizzie”

“You Can’t Afford to Marry If You Can’t Afford A Ford”


Automobiles, innovation


We Have Remembered the Maine

“We Have Remembered the Maine”

“Buffalo Soldiers”

expansion, isolation, Manifest Destiny, economy, political cartoons, war

1890-1930 Kaulana Na Pua (Famous are the Flowers) “Kaulana Na Pua” expansion, isolation, Manifest Destiny, economy, political cartoons
1911-2011 Public Monuments and Music

"The Star Spangled Banner"

"The Gift of Light"

"Indian National Anthem: Jana Gana Mana"


Art history, American and Indian cultural forms, Western art
1920s-1930s The Harlem Renaissance

“Day Dream”

“Sophisticated Lady”

“What a Wonderful World”

Harlem Renaissance, Jazz, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes


Conflicting Images of Migrant Labor

“Big Rock Candy Mountain”

“Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)”

“Hobo’s Lullaby”

labor, industry, hardship, economy


New York World’s Fair

“Dawn of the New Day”




Tom Joad

“Tom Joad”

“The Ghost of Tom Joad”

hardship, labor, economy


Holocaust Prevention



“Yes. That’s the way things are”

“Man Proposes, God Disposes”

“The Garden”

“The Old House”

hardship, empathy


God Bless the Child

“God Bless the Child”

Jazz Age, hardship

African Americans


US Entry into WWII

“What Are We Waitin’ On?”

“Ballad of October 16”

“Citizen CIO”

foreign policy, patriotism, protest


Migrant Melodies

“Seven Cent Cotton and Forty Cent Meat”

labor, hardship, economy


Isolationism v Internationalism

“Sinking of the Reuben James”

expansion, isolation, foreign policy


Songs of Protest


“God Bless the USA”

soldiers, war, patriotism


The Kennedy Assassination: The Loss of Innocence in America

“He Was a Friend of Mine”

politics, hardship


Evolution of Civil Rights

“Strange Fruit”

“Freedom Road”

“We Shall Overcome”

“People Get Ready”

civil rights, African Americans


Ballad of the Green Berets

“Ballad of the Green Berets”


soldiers, war, patriotism, protest


Rebellion in the 1950s

“Summertime Blues”

economy, labor, dance


Brave New World

“A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”

“Lord Randall”

hardship, technology, ballad

1945-1970 Other Civil Rights Movements

“3rd Base Dodger Stadium”

"It's Just Work For Me"  

Chavez Ravine, Civil Rights, Hispanic-Americans, eminent domain, Bill of Rights
1945-1970 Vietnam

“Fortunate Son”

“Goodnight Saigon”

“Bring Em Home”

"Born in the U.S.A."

"Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag"

Viet Nam War
1945-1970 Social Justice

“Black and White”

“Everyday People”

“We Shall Be Free”



Social Justice, poverty, race, gender, religion
1950s-2001 Latin American Music

“Oye Como Va”

“Cielito Lindo”


Latin Folk and pop music, Puerto Rican rhythms
1960s-1970s S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders

“Stay Gold”

“Out in the Streets”

language arts
1960s-1970s Protest and Change in the 1960s and 1970s

"Wives and Lovers"          "Under My Thumb"          "Natural Woman"                         " I Am Woman"                        "The Pill"                                  "Big Yellow Taxi"

"Blowin' in the Wind"

Counterculture, Women’s Rights Movement, Second Wave Feminism, Environmentalism


Life After the Assassination of MLK

“Inner City Blues”

politics, hardship, civil rights, African Americans


A Boy Named Sue

“A Boy Named Sue”



Trees Like Me Weren’t Meant to Live

“A Day in the Life of a Tree”

“Ye Noble Big Pine Tree”

economy, ecology, empathy


Songs of Loss: Springsteen and 9/11

“You’re Missing”

“Empty Sky”

hardship, patriotism


The Evolving Image of American Womanhood

“I am Woman”

“Pretty Face”

“At Seventeen”

suffrage, equal rights, gender, equality

1968-present Non Point Source Pollution

“What a Wonderful World”

“Big Yellow Taxi”

“Mercy Mercy Me”

“Green Go Green”


Science, Environmentalism, Pollution,
1968-present Civil Rights

“Black and White”

“Everyday People”

“We Shall Be Free”

equality, politics, civil rights, African Americans
1968-present Musical Rhetoric of Identity

“Take Me as I Am”

“I am Woman” (Reddy)

"I am Woman" (Sparks)

“I am Everyday People”

"Say it Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)"

Feminism, gender identity, civil rights, personal, national, cultural, and communal identities
1968-present Gender Issues in Rap


“Brenda’s Got a Baby”

“Same Love”

“We’re Gonna Have to Slap the Dirty Little Jap”


Hip hop culture, misogyny, homophobia
1968-present Plato's Allegory of the Cave

"Amazing Grace"

"Ignorance" (by Paramore)

“Oliveros Gamper Duet” (by Tosca Salad)



Social Justice Issues

“Black and White”

“Everyday People”

“We Shall Be Free”

equality, politics, civil rights, African Americans


Panics, Depressions, and Hard Times

“Hard Times: Great Depressions v Great Recession”

economy, politics, hardship




equal rights, gender, equality


Lift Every Voice and Sing

“Lift Every Voice and Sing”

“Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”

politics, hardship, civil rights, African Americans


Freedom of Speech

“Freedom of Speech”

politics, patriotism, protest

2001 How Does Popular Music Depict the American Public’s Reactions to the 9/11 Attacks?

"Star Spangled Banner"

"Milli Surood"

"Empty Sky"

"New York, New York"

"Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue"

"Know Your Enemy"

"American Idiot"


9-11, War on Terror, memorials, anthems


Copyright 2011-2016 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System