Now this is a school I want to attend: Steven Van Zandt, renowned guitarist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, unveiled a music education curriculum that will enable middle and high school students to learn about the societal influence of rock music. WOW!!! What I wouldn’t give to be one of those students – and this is coming from someone who has absolutely no interest in ever revisiting those years of my life. Mind = blown.
Can you imagine? Learning about Civil Rights via Aretha Franklin songs, discussing the Vietnam protesting era by listening to Buffalo Springfield and Bob Dylan or talking about Chuck Berry breaking color barriers while listening to one of his classics? Or how about visiting historical politics via Neil Young songs? This is truly amazing and innovative and I’m so excited to hear more about it.
According to Van Zandt’s announcement, which was given today at NYU, his Rock & Roll Forever Foundation will partner with the Grammy Museum to launch “Rock & Roll: An American Story (RRAAS)” in the fall. As part of his presentation he introduced a short film that illustrated the format of RRAAS. It showed a pilot class in the Bronx in which the students were surprised that their lesson included music that they were currently enjoying. Students listened to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and related it to the Civil Rights Movement and then watched live footage of the Temptations performing before an all-white audience. Brilliant.
Through various forms of multimedia, the program parallels the story of rock music with other movements in society, including those in politics, race, religion and social progress. Being in the music business for such a long time Van Zandt has some help from his famous rock and roll friends including Bono, Bonnie Raitt and Metallica frontman James Hetfield who were featured in the film and discussed how music affected them and their educations. How cool is that?!
I took a History of Rock & Roll class in college at CU and I learned so much it was incredible. It was one of my favorite classes and to this day I am grateful for the new perspective that professor gave me.
After RRAAS launches this fall, organizers are hoping it will reach major cities within the next three years. In the meantime, NYU is slated to host a teacher training program to prepare educators. I really hope that all of this goes well and that other cities catch on to this ground-breaking, game-changing idea. Rock on Steven Van Zandt! You can take me to rock & roll school anytime!