Take Me To The River: New Orleans Curriculum

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Take Me To The River

In the words of the renowned saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Filmmaker Martin Shore, New Orleans music educators and cultural bearers, along with music educators from Berklee, Boston and New York City, enthusiastically came together to develop a dynamic set of cross-disciplinary resources to excite, engage and inspire your students in learning the music culture of New Orleans.

The remarkable film Take Me to the River New Orleans richly documents music-making in New Orleans, which is at the core of American music culture. It infuses a multiplicity of genres, making historical linkages and informing the through lines of American culture and history. The thoughtful curriculum unit design maintains the integrity of music culture, which holds reverence for the past, and presses forward into a future that continues the inclusive, communal spirit of human connections through storytelling and music-making. What a privilege it is to welcome and expand music-cultural engagement that furthers the all-embracing influences of New Orleans music.

Krystal Banfield, EdD
Vice President, Education Outreach and Social Entrepreneurship
Berklee College of Music

New Orleans is the perfect mélange of culture, legacy, and music. Visit New Orleans and you will find yourself transported to a storybook place of sounds, sights and aromas so appealing you’re compelled to explore and understand the culture. Culture with a diverse and inclusive community that not only built this city, but ensures this special place continues to flourish and grow on the foundation of its storied legacy and history.

The origins and influences of the cultural foundation are a wonderful blend of African, French, Spanish, Caribbean, Haitian, Cuban, and Native American Choctaw. New Orleans music is in fact the FIRST World Music. It is a unique cultural jewel and musical gift to the world which gave birth to multiple genres while inspiring the world’s popular culture and musical landscape.

New Orleans Music is rich and encompassing. It combines West African rhythms, Afro Cuban beats (tresillo and habanera), Haitian syncopation, European military marching brass bands, and so much more. Its only true definition can be compared to one of the most famous culinary dishes of the region: Gumbo!

Within these curricular units, our desire is for you as teachers to learn more about New Orleans’ rich culture, heritage and legacy as seen in the film. But also, as seen in the film, our goal is to pass this knowledge to the next generation, your students, and we hope it inspires you to find new music and cultures to explore, learn about, and teach in your classroom, that are relevant to your students.

We are committed to making sure generations that follow will know where the music and this precious culture came from. What’s important is that the world supports this culture, this city, these musicians. We must stay true to its rich culture and steadfast heritage. We are all cultural custodians.

- Martin Shore
Director, Take Me To The River New Orleans