Exploring Historical and Cultural Connections to the Guitar
Aim: How are the guitar and related instruments used in societies around the world?
Summary: Students explore the sound, evolution, performance techniques, and culture of guitar-like instruments from around the world.
Standards: US 6, 7, 8, 9; NYC 3, 4, 5
Materials: Student Worksheet, audio and/or video recordings of various plucked instruments
Time Required: 25 minutes
- Working in small groups, have students examine images of guitars and other guitar-like instruments such as the sitar, lute, balalaika, and ukulele. As students look at the images, have them answer, reflect, and share on these questions:
- What do you notice about the instruments in each picture?
- What types of materials do you think were used to make each instrument?
- How do you think each instrument is played?
- Do you think these instruments sound the same or different? If different, what types of different sounds do you think you would hear?
- Brainstorm the use of guitars and other plucked instruments in music today.
- Why might guitars be such popular instruments in American culture and around the world? (Responses may include its portability, versatility, etc.)
- How might life before radios, mp3s, CDs, and electricity make a difference in the popularity of a guitar?
- What parts of a song can a guitar play? Melody? Rhythm? Chordal accompaniment?
- Listen to and/or watch excerpts of guitar and other guitar-like instruments.
- What makes each instrument or style unique?
- How are they related?
- Considering the evolution of the guitar and other plucked instruments, what might be its future in the 21st century?
- Have students research the history of the guitar.
- Invite a guest artist into the classroom to perform on the guitar (or other plucked instrument).