Teaching music in the art museum

Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019

Mari Jo Velasco, Cotsen Fellow in the Society, jumped right into her first semester in the Society of Fellows teaching a Music / American Studies course “North American Music Traditions” on historical themes, social issues, and musical aspects of the diverse musical traditions of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The fall 2018 course focused on comparing colonial traditions, examining the music of the U.S. South, analyzing protest music of the 1960s, and exploring newer contributions to global music trends. While mostly taking a historical approach, the course examined issues of authenticity, appropriation, migration, race/gender/class, and the music industry.

One highlight of the course was a visit to the “Picturing Protest” exhibit at the Princeton Art Museum, displayed fifty years after the political demonstrations and upheavals of 1968 across the country and on university campuses. Students explored and discussed the connections between the evocative 1960s photographs and other exhibited art and various protest songs from the era. While viewing images, they listened to archetypal anthems of the time, such as “We Shall Overcome” and “You Don’t Own Me,” thinking about how these songs influenced their perception of the images, and vice versa.