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Electrifying the Classroom: A Look at Summer Teacher Institute 2010

Friday, July 2: 9:34 a.m.
Rock Hall inductee Bobby Massey of the O'Jays (right) with Director of Education Jason Hanley.

Last week the Rock Hall hosted its annual Summer Teacher Institute – an intensive workshop for educators where the Museum becomes the classroom and rock and roll becomes the teacher.  This year we welcomed 50 teachers from 17 states and Canada to the house that rock built to learn how they can use popular music in their own curriculum.  It’s an exciting time and one of my favorite weeks of the year.  The energy is palpable and contagious.

I think what makes Summer Teacher Institute so exciting is the diversity of experience that each year’s participants brings.  From kindergarten teachers to college professors, music teachers to science teachers, STI brings educators from all sides together to find ways to make learning come alive for their students through the power of rock and roll.  This year, I met an English teacher from San Francisco interested in the poetry of rock lyrics (he took the red-eye flight just to get here in time!), a US History teacher from New Jersey preparing to teach his own high school rock history course this fall (he said it filled up in five minutes), and a group of teachers from Milwaukee curious to learn how ...


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Hitsville USA

Tuesday, August 3: 12:10 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Rock Hall inductee Dennis Edwards of the Temptations (right) with Director of Education Jason Hanley

Last week at the Rock Hall the buzz was all about Hitsville USA.  On Wednesday the Education Department featured a Rock and Roll Night School program on Motown, and on Friday we welcomed Inductee Dennis Edwards of the Temptations for an afternoon Hall of Fame Series event.  And don’t forget that this week is your final chance to see the excellent exhibit MOTOWN: The Sound of Young America Turns 50.

This month’s Rock and Roll Night School, our second on the music of Motown, focused on the years 1964 to 1967, when the label was hitting its stride, cranking out hit after hit, and going head to head with the sounds of the British invasion.  Several factors lead to Motown’s success during this period.  One was Berry Gordy’s vision and business smarts.  By owning the recording, publishing, marketing, distribution, and management he was able to connect every part of the music business and control the sound and image that became the Motown brand.  Another key development was connecting a team of songwriters to a specific musical group.  In the case of Holland-Dozier-Holland this meant teaming with the Supremes and the Four Tops, and the result was ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Exhibit, Education, Exclusive Interviews, Rock and Roll Night School

The New Orleans Spirit

Friday, October 29: 12:47 p.m.
Posted by Greg Harris
Dave Bartholomew performs at the landmark dedication at J&M Studios at New Orleans.

The Crescent City is coming to Cleveland and we are welcoming her with open arms! In a few weeks a remarkable group of nearly 40 New Orleans musicians, tradition bearers bringing 70+ years of incredible music, will help us honor Fats Domino and his longtime collaborator Dave Bartholomew as American Music Masters.

I fell in love with New Orleans through the LP recordings of Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Huey Piano Smith, and the Wild Tchoupitoulas—and one very well worn truckstop cassette compilation tape that featured “Carnival Time,” “Mardi Gras Mambo,””Iko Iko,” “Walking to New Orleans” and a handful of other songs.  This blossomed when as a twenty-something I traveled there with Robert Gordon—not the singer but the Memphis-born music scholar and filmmaker—the perfect tour guide to what was clearly his second city.  The trip started in Philadelphia when we climbed into a massive 1969 Cadillac Sedan Deville—and headed south. Somewhere in Virginia we realized that if we shut the car off it would not restart, so we kept it running all the way to Atlanta, added a passenger and continued directly to New Orleans.

As if on cue we picked up WWOZ as we blew ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, American Music Masters, Education, Event

An amazing coincidence during a Rock Hall distance learning class

Tuesday, November 2: 9:29 a.m.
Slide taken from the class presentation.

One of my favorite New Orleans words is "lagniappe." Pronounced "lan-yap," it means something extra, a bonus. It can also be defined as an unexpected gift.

For me, this year’s American Music Masters series honoring Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew has been nothing but lagniappe. Having moved to Cleveland from New Orleans about a year and a half ago, I’m beyond excited to celebrate the music and spirit of my former hometown, and to pay homage to one of the greatest partnerships in rock and roll history. The line-up for the tribute concert on November 13th alone is phenomenal, not to mention the week’s worth of events that precede it. This is not to be missed – believe me.

The real gift to me, however, came last week when I was able to connect with a seventh-grade class at the Intercultural Charter School of New Orleans East, with an On the Road distance-learning program on Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, and New Orleans rock and roll. Working with teachers at the school and with KID smART, a local arts integration education initiative, we were able to present a special interactive video-conferencing class just to them, and just for them ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Education, Event

Dr. John, Fats Domino, and the piano

Monday, November 8: 12:44 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Pictured from top: Fats Domino; Dr. John

Over the past few weeks I have traveled to New Orleans several times and had the chance to see Dr. John perform live at Lafayette Square, play with the band Widespread Panic, and even sit next to him as he played in a small rehearsal studio just west of the French Quarter.  Each time my eyes were fixed on his hands as he moved them effortlessly across the keys.  What an amazing player; Dr. John holds the history of New Orleans piano music in his head and the soul of the sound in his hands.

The reason I’ve seen him so many times is that Dr. John and his band, the Lower 911, will be the house band for the upcoming American Music Masters Tribute to Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew.  It is a perfect combination: Dr. John leading the band that will honor one of the giants of rock and roll piano, Fats Domino.  As you can imagine I have been thinking a lot about the music of New Orleans, the piano style of Fats Domino, and the rhythms of Mardi Gras.  What makes Fats’ music so exciting is the way it blends together several major musical ideas ...


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Teachers are inspired to make change happen in the classroom during American Music Masters week

Thursday, November 18: 11:37 a.m.
Roots of Music: After-School Music Education in Post-Katrina New Orleans class at the Rock Hall

As I’ve mentioned before, this year’s 15th annual American Music Masters series honoring Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew has been a homecoming of sorts for me – taking me back to my former hometown of New Orleans.  Last week’s Teachers Rock workshop, featuring Allison Reinhardt and Lawrence Rawlins of the acclaimed Roots of Music program, paid tribute to the musical legacy of both our AMM honorees as well as to the musical heritage of the city of New Orleans, by drawing attention to a program that works tirelessly to keep these musical traditions alive, with students who, in a very real way, are fighting themselves to survive.

As a fourth and fifth grade special education teacher for what is now known as the Recovery School District in New Orleans, I witnessed the struggles of the city’s schoolchildren first-hand.  Years of educational neglect coupled with the crippling devastation of Hurricane Katrina left its mark in every imaginable way.  The children of New Orleans deserve better.

Unfortunately, as we know all too well, when schools are struggling – financially, academically, or in this case, both – music education is one of the first things to go.  In a city like New ...


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Peter Hook kicks off his U.S. tour at the Rock Hall

Monday, December 6: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Peter Hook performs at the Rock Hall's Legends Series event.

Bassist Peter Hook has been the pulse of two of rock’s most enigmatic groups: Joy Division and New Order. He discussed the history of both bands at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Tuesday evening, November 30. The Legends Series session featured a sit-down interview and performance. The event’s free tickets disappeared quickly, and it streamed live via rockhall.com. If you missed it, some highlights are here. 

It was a busy week for Hook, who stopped in Cleveland between a concert in Italy and a show at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club. The DC show was the opening night of a US tour for Hook’s latest band, the Light. The Light is playing original material, but opens their set with Joy Division’s entire debut album, Unknown Pleasures. The Joy Division set is hotly anticipated and long overdue: In 1980, singer Ian Curtis committed suicide the night before the band was scheduled to leave for an American tour.

Hook sat for a two-hour Q&A session with Rock Hall Director of Education Jason Hanley, but first the Foster Theater screened the same short film that is preceding the Light’s live ...


continue Categories: Exclusive Interviews, Education, Foster Theatre, Event

Rockin' the Schools on the Radio

Wednesday, December 22: 1:03 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Students learn about financial literacy in Rock Hall Education programs

A few weeks ago, local NPR station Ideastream®’s reporter Michelle Kanu visited the Rock Hall to sit-in on a couple of our popular Rockin’ the Schools classes.  Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, Rockin’ the Schools brings approximately twenty thousand students and teachers from Northeast Ohio and beyond into the Museum’s state-of-the-art Foster Theater to learn about the history and significance of rock and roll music.  All of the classes are designed so that while students are enjoying the music they are also learning about key concepts in Fine Arts, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology.  As a teacher in the program for the last seven years I always love watching students as they begin to understand the important part rock and roll played in the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 60s, or when they start to understand how hip-hop artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five related “The Message” of what life was like in the Bronx, NYC in the late 1970s to an audience around the world.  Each of the programs is supported with materials for teachers to use in their classroom so that the lessons can begin in the classroom before the ...


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