Tag Archives: music

Every Good Boy Deserves Favor

Every Good Boy Deserves Favor: A play (1977) by the Czech-born British dramatist Tom Stoppard (b. 1937), with music by the US conductor Andre Previn. The play is about a dissident confined to a Soviet psychiatric hospital, and the ironic title refers to the mnemonic used in music teaching for the notes on the lines of the treble stave: E, G, B, D, F.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Pulchritude (n)

While it is far from a high-frequency word (which means I almost certainly wrote it during the height of the first wave of the Covid pandemic, when it popped up as the Word of the Day at Merriam-Webster), here is a context clues worksheet on the noun pulchritude. It means “physical comeliness,” i.e. “beauty.” An old friend of mine would refer affectionately to his wife as a “pulchritudinous little plumcake,” which is the first time and place I heard the word.

In any case, the word stems from the Latin root pulcher. As Merriam Webster puts it, Pulcher hasn’t exactly been a wellspring of English terms…”. While I am not a betting man, if I were, I would wager that Pulcinella, a figure from commedia dell’arte (and namesake of the superb ballet by Igor Stravinsky) has a name that originates with pulcher.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

12 Reading Comprehension Worksheets on the Rapper Eminem

In response to a student request, I produced these twelve reading comprehension worksheets on the rapper Eminem. These are pretty basic, and follow the sequence of about two-thirds of the Wikipedia page on Eminem. These documents, like most things you’ll find on this site, are formatted in Microsoft Word; in other words, you can download them and alter them to you or your students’ needs.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Leitmotif

“Leitmotif: (German Leitmotiv ‘leading motif’) A term coined by Hans von Wolzugen to designate a musical theme associated throughout a whole work with a particular object, denote a recurrent theme (q.v.) or unit. It is occasionally used as a literary term in the same sense that Mann intended, and also on a broader sense to refer to an author’s favorite themes: for example, the hunted man and betrayal in the novels of Graham Greene.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Blog Post 5,000: A Tentative Beginning to a Unit on Writing Reviews

In six years plus of this blog, I have finally reached the 5,000-post mark. Post Number 5,000 is a set of documents that I began toward developing a unit on writing reviews some years ago while working in an ill-fated middle school in the North Bronx.

For now, however, here are the basic, undeveloped documents for this unit. Here is a a tentative unit plan, which is still mostly in template form. Likewise this lesson-plan template and this worksheet template. Here is a a glossary of critical terms  for writing film reviews. This is a start on the first worksheet of the unit.

Finally, here is a list of aesthetic criteria for evaluating cultural products. Let me mention in passing that this is for teacher use; the one time I taught kids to write reviews, I made sure that they made, with proper guidance, their own lists of aesthetic criteria for the media or event they were criticizing.

You may want to check back here later, as I am in the process of developing this long-neglected unit.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts

While I concede that this reading on Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts and its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet may not have compelling utility in our mostly arts-free schools, here they are nonetheless.

I’m old enough to remember the broadcasts of Maestro Bernstein–who was an eminent figure in the American Culture of my youth–and his Young People’s Concerts. The New York Philharmonic, then as now, stood as one of the world’s great orchestras. I can’t say these television shows inculcated a lifelong love of classical music in me, but they did introduce me to it and help me understand it. Fortunately, Wynton Marsalis, a figure as vital to American culture as Leonard Bernstein, continues the tradition of introducing young people to a genuinely American art form with his “Jazz for Young People” concerts. Mr. Marsalis leads the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, perhaps the greatest large ensemble playing jazz these days.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, 8 October 2021, Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Los Angeles

Here on the fourth Friday of Hispanic Heritage Month 2021, is a reading on Los Angeles along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

This second-largest city in the United States, known in the vernacular by its initialism, L.A., was founded as a city in 1781, but claimed as Spanish territory by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. The city became Mexican territory in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence. Then, in 1848 (a momentous year in world history, to say the least), after the Mexican-American War, following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the United States purchased the territory that became the state of California two years later, in 1850.

The city is a rich producer and repository of Chicano culture. This is the municipality, after all, that played a role in giving the world the nonpareil Los Lobos.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Elvis Presley

Here is a reading on Elvis Presley along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. This has tended to be high-interest material for some students, so I have tagged it as such.

For other students, Elvis may be of no interest whatsoever. I’d just like to mention that he presents an interesting case study on cultural appropriation. Did you know “Hound Dog” (which has been recorded, according to the song’s Wikipedia page, “more than 250 times”) was originally a hit for Big Mama Thornton (which was answered, humorously, by Rufus Thomas in his song “Bear Cat“) and was a number one hit for her on the R&B charts? Of that the first song (and his first hit single) he ever recorded, at Sun Studio’s Memphis Recording Service, was “That’s All Right,” composed by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup

In other words, this is a good reading to open a discussion about how white artists, especially in the 1950s, helped themselves to the work of black artists and got rich doing it. This is so well documented at this point that if you search “white artists not paying royalties to black artists” you will find a trove of information about this practice. Even gigantic media company BMG admits Black artists were cheated out of fair contracts and royalty payments. I salute Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy for calling for reparations to Black recording artists.

There is a lot to chew on here. The essential question here is something like “What is cultural appropriation and what is outright theft? What is the difference?”

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Suggestopedia

“Suggestopedia: A method of foreign-language instruction developed by Bulgarian psychologist Georgi Lozanov in the 1970s that uses the power of positive suggestion. Teachers trained in Suggestopedia’s techniques create a calm physical classroom environment that relaxes the students and lowers their affective filter, or resistance to learning. The teacher first introduces the words and grammar of the lesson, Then, during a concert session, students listen to the teacher read the lesson while Baroque music plays in the background. Other forms of art, such poetry, drama, and puppetry, are also employed to stimulate students’ perceptions. The students sing songs and play games, using what they have learned, and then interact with one another in the new language, without correction. The method is also referred to as desuggestopedia to reflect advances in its theoretical development.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Mellifluous (adj)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective mellifluous. It means “having a smooth rich flow <a mellifluous voice> and “filled with something (as honey) that sweetens.”

It’s not a word used with any real frequency in English. But when you need it–as when it’s time to express one’s feelings about, say, Nina Simone’s voice–well, nothing else will quite do, you know?

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.