School to work with Feinstein to incorporate music into classes

By Vivien Mao

The Michael Feinstein Foundation and Harvard-Westlake faculty are joining together to assemble a potentially nationwide project to make American music more accessible to students.

Together with entertainer Michael Feinstein, who performed at an assembly on Feb. 7, the History and Performing Arts departments and President of School Thomas C. Hudnut have met to discuss ideas for future goals of the effort. Feinstein is known for being an avid American music fan and performer. He has performed more than 150 shows per year and serves on the Library of Congress’ National Sound Recording Advisory Board, whose purpose is to protect America’s musical heritage.

The Michael Feinstein Foundation has a similar purpose. Its mission statement is “to bring the music of the Great American Songbook, [a uniquely American collection of music, lyrics, culture, and history, of Broadway and other musical theatre, Hollywood musicals and Tin Pan Alley from the 1920s to 1960], to young people today, and to preserve it for future generations.”

The foundation hopes to first form a committee of school teachers who can help to brainstorm ideas about how to integrate more music into students’ lives.

History teachers Greg Gonzalez and Francine Werner are on the current committee that meets with officers from the foundation.

“I’ve always wanted to incorporate music and the Great American Songbook into our courses,” Gonzalez said.
Hudnut is leading the project, but so far only one meeting has been held for brainstorming, and as of now there have been no definitive results.

“I mostly incorporate music into the Europe class when I can, but for the juniors I throw in a little Aaron Copeland for the 1920s,” Gonzalez said.

Though the project is still in its early stages, the goal going forward is to create a part of an American History curriculum that would focus on American musical culture.