University of Pittsburgh
June 17, 2008

Educators From Around the Country to Convene at Pitt for Voices Across Time Institute

Teachers will be shown ways in which they can use American music to teach history, civics, economics, and other subjects

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-Twenty-five educators from as far away as Hawaii and Puerto Rico will converge on the University of Pittsburgh campus July 7 through Aug. 8 for the Voices Across Time Summer Institute for teachers-a program developed by Pitt's Center for American Music that trains teachers how they can use American music as a tool to educate students in elementary, middle, and high school.

Funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities, the institute has been held twice before at Pitt. Voices Across Time faculty includes musicologists, historians, and performers who provide the teachers with materials and techniques they can use to weave American music into their existing curriculum and as a primary source for teaching students the history of the nation. Past participants reported later a marked increase in the level of enthusiasm and performance among their students.

"The sound of history is missing from our classrooms," says institute codirector Deane Root, Pitt professor of music and director and the Fletcher Hodges Jr. curator at the Center for American Music.

Root says the institute provides participants with musical examples to support their teaching, such as listening to the spiritual "Go Down, Moses" to help them better understand slavery. They may hear Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" as a representation of the American populist movement of the mid-20th century, and Bruce Springsteen's "Philadelphia" may enlighten them about poverty and health care in urban centers.

Said one past Voices participant: "Songs are remarkable transmitters of culture and history. I will never again view songs as isolated expressions of musical creativity."