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DIS infuses learning with works of legendary black musicians

Published Thursday, February 18, 2021

Teacher tapes completed lessons to wall

Like many other schools across Berkeley County School District, Daniel Island School is infusing learning in February with lessons incorporating Black History. Most of those lessons involve the work of legendary black musicians.

To kick off the month, students school-wide were tasked with a scavenger hunt to find hidden MLK quotes. When found, the quotes were read and their meanings were deconstructed and discussed in classes. Following that activity, the musical exploration began. 

Students in kindergarten and first grade are studying the work of internationally acclaimed musician Wynton Marsalis – exploring found sounds; rhyming words; musical instruments and the sounds and melodies created by industry, travel and nature. 

Meanwhile, students in second grade have been tapping along with lessons pulled from the life of tap-dancing legend Bill Robinson. Lessons include the use of body percussion and percussion instruments. 

Third and fourth graders are learning about Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, a jazz musician from New Orleans. He travels all around the world performing with his band.  Students are reading his autobiography “Trombone Shorty,” a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award book, and “The 5 o’clock Band,” a story about what it means to be a leader and commitment to others. Students are also working on musical compositions based on Andrews’ life and music that includes body percussion, rhythmic instruments, and chanting. Through collaboration, students will create compositions to perform with Trombone Shorty’s music – in what will be an ongoing project at the school. 

From there, third and fourth graders will explore the song “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. Students  will research the artists, and their musical styles, mentioned in the song. (Count Basie's "Take the A Train;" Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World;" Ella Fitzgerald singing Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing;" and Glenn Miller's "In the Mood.") 

For additional information about Black History Month events and activities, visit the page of our Office of Diversity.