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Celebrating Black History

In honor of celebrating Black History year-round, we are shining a spotlight on the ways our music teachers are recognizing Black artists, culture, and history with their students. Scroll down to see how we are celebrating!

Black History Month through the arts

Join ETM-LA Music Teacher Ursula Matlock as she celebrates Black History through music! Watch her video lesson to learn more about three Black artists who made significant contributions in the field of arts, including Miriam Makeba, Blind Tom Wiggins, and Moses Hogan.

See Full Lesson

Black History Month in the Music Classroom

In February, our music teachers share how they explore social studies, culture, artists, and music in their classrooms through the celebration of Black History Month. Take an inside look at some of the ways our students are learning about Black music, history, and culture.

Read Classroom Summaries

Spotlight on Vincent Womack, Conductor & Music Professor

Vincent Womack is ETM-LA’s 2017 Shining Star Music Educator. We caught up with him this year to talk about the impact and life-changing benefits of music education.

“When my opportunity to join the school band program came in 5th grade, I was hungry for it. I expected big things to happen—they did.”

Read Spotlight

HBCU’s Impact & Influence

The second week of September is National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week in the U.S.

2022’s HBCU Week conference is focused on the subject “Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity,” and this hit close to home for ETM-LA. To celebrate and advocate for HBCU Week, we interviewed 5 of our program staff members who are HBCU alumni from 5 different universities.

Read Article Here

Read Full Interviews Here

Music in Black History: New Orleans Second Line History & Culture

Catch up with ETM-LA Music Teacher Kimberly Johnson as she shares one of her lessons on Music in Black History.

View Kimberly’s Music in Black History Lesson

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who fought for civil rights and an end to racial segregation. “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” King stated. We continue to work resolutely towards ensuring equity and access for all, particularly for historically marginalized populations. Education Through Music-Los Angeles believes in the non-negotiable right for all students to receive music and arts as part of a well-rounded education.

Read more here

learning black american sign language

ETM-LA Music Teacher Kimberly Cox Johnson dives deep into the history of Black American Sign Language, and teaches her students to sign along with Bill Withers’ classic song, “Lean on Me.” She shares more about the origins of Black American Sign Language, the meaning behind her selection of “Lean on Me,” the importance of communication, and how she thinks outside the box for her Black History Month lessons.

Read interview here

View Kimberly’s Black History Month/ BASL lesson

View Kimberly’s BASL demonstration

exploring black american music

ETM-LA Music Teacher Joshua Wen explores Black American Music and its wide-ranging influences on American culture. Instead of drawing genre boundaries in music, Wen and his students discover how Black American Music belongs in many musical spaces. He shares more about this lesson and its main goal of giving students the ability to listen to music more critically and independently, and for them to recognize and appreciate the sound of Black American Musiceven beyond their time in the classroom.

Read interview here

writing the blues

ETM-LA Music Teacher Angelica Rowell showcases Blues music and its key figures through aural identification, lyric study, and compare and contrast. Students also explore song structure and AAB form, and even write their own Blues-inspired poem!

Read interview here

View activity here

“Midnight Blues” by Bessie Smith – Listen Here

Explore the impact that African-American Music Educators had on numerous artists:
“If I know anything about music, I learned it because of the Defender.”

– Lionel Hampton

Major N. Clark Smith
 led the Chicago Defender Newsboys’ Band with “a vivid and commanding personality”. One of his more famous students, Lionel Hampton, remarked in his autobiography that Smith was “about the greatest musician I guess I have ever known”. Major Smith developed Hampton’s musicianship, and Hampton ultimately shaped the American jazz scene of the ’40s and ’50s with his bands, and launched the careers of Dinah Washington, Quincy Jones, and Charlie Parker. Hampton was recognized with the National Medal of Arts and Kennedy Center Honors.


Reprinted with permission from Give a Note Foundation. The original article published on Feb. 15, 2021 can be found here