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November 18, 2020

How Musical Traditions Are Passed Down to New Generations

Ask students: Can you think of music or art made by past generations that inspires you? If so, what is it? How are musical traditions passed down?


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The Importance of Preserving Community Through Musical Traditions

The blues is a quintessentially American art form, yet one whose early masters have mostly passed away. The genre relies on each succeeding generation to renew and reinvigorate it. In Clarksdale, Mississippi, 21-year-old guitarist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is taking up that mantle. Read the summary, watch the video below, and answer the discussion questions. To read a transcript of the video, click here

  • Ingram mentions that his friends would make fun of him for being interested in older musical styles, but he wanted to explore his history and culture.
  • Ingram is one of many young performance artists trying to build a career at a time when many music venues are closed or limiting capacity.

Discussion Questions Passing Down Musical Traditions

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is this story about?
  • What musical traditions he is carrying on?
  • Where and for how long has this artist been performing?
  • Why has this year been especially challenging for performing musicians?
  • How has this artist helped preserve an art form, according to this piece?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Focus Questions: Musical Traditions and Preservation

  1. Can you think of music or art made by past generations that inspires you? If so, what is it?
  2. How do you think the pandemic has changed performance art or other arts, and do you think some of those changes will be permanent?

Media Literacy: Why do you think the journalist decided to focus on this one young artist?

Additional Resources

  • Use this lesson to explore how art can help overcome trauma, including the mental health toll of isolation during the pandemic.
  • This storycovers ways the music industry is trying to adapt to closures and entertainment venue restrictions.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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