We don’t claim to be experts on African history, but here are some great ideas to help you put together a classroom lesson your students will remember with royalty free music and sound effects that represent the rich African-American culture for Black History Month. Drawing from musical genres such as Jazz, Soul, African, and Gospel, you can create an interactive learning experience for students of any age.
Start with a trip overseas to Africa, the heartland of the world, and delve deep into the cultures of the kingdoms of the African plains. From the Ivory Coast to Kenya and Ethiopia to the Congo, African heritage has its roots on this huge continent. So transport your students with royalty free sound effects and music beds of african drumming, chants, and songs. Explore rhythmic textures and traditional percussion and wind instruments native to Africa while letting students see images of proud kings, queens, and African royalty, and explore the African terrain with stock footage clips from Africa. Teach your students about the teamwork, compassion, and community needed to survive in both harsh environments and luxurious oases. Empower students with family history and African ties to tell their family’s story, and encourage creating family trees to trace for royal lineage.
Slavery and American Gospel
Of course, no African history lesson is complete without a close, careful examination of slavery. For far too long, native Africans were treated as commodities by western and European conquerors, bought and sold along the waterways and trade routes across the Atlantic and around the world. Paint a vivid picture of what it was like to be a slave: the horrible conditions, the tireless work, and the lack of freedom. Have your students imagine growing up without parents and access to education and resources. Play traditional royalty free gospel songs to illustrate to your students how slaves communicated not only religious beliefs, but hope and secret messages for the underground railroad.
You can pair these images with the vibrancy of Afro-Cuban music, which transported traditional African bata drumming to the Western Hemisphere, providing a scintillating mix of cultures and musical styles. Show your students how traditional drumming patterns are similar to those in Salsa and Afro-Cuban genres, and how African dance influenced western movement.
Civil Rights and Rap, Jazz, and Rock
Finally, remind your students that modern day American rock and roll, jazz, and R&B and Rap all have their roots in the 19th and 20th century Black-American struggle. Whether via civil rights injustices or economic injustice or via social triumphs of progress and reform, show the rich cultural impact that African artists have had on modern art, culture, and society. Listen to some stock jazz music in class, and compare how poetry from Harlem is similar or different that Rap from the streets of Compton, and discuss the social problems that drove these art forms, and the steps towards progress we can all take.