Music & Revolution

Student generated word cloud: In what ways can music create change?

Music and Revolution:

How can music affect change?

Music is in our minds, our mobiles; it’s part of our natural environment. But what does it tell us? What can it teach us? Do we need to question what we listen to of just enjoy it? This unit explores these questions and encourages students to think analytically from a historical perspective. You will learn about how musicians like the Staples Singers created a soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement in the USA (and beyond) and how Billie Holiday risked everything by singing, “Strange Fruit.” Fast forward 50 years, pop on some Public Enemy, and you can see a complete change in views about civil rights and protests. Even today music and musicians continue to affect change; the Black Eyed Peas and their iconic song “Where is the Love” (2003/16) is an excellent example of this. But, not all messages are revolutionary or press for positive change; where do we draw the line about what we listen to?


  • Awareness of social issues and social justice
  • Modern American music history from 1930s onwards with focus on jazz, and rap
  • The Civil Rights movement reflected in music
  • Understanding of the positive and negative influence music and musicians wield
  • Analysis, reading between the lines
  • Critical thinking
  • Use of proof and citations

Focus Questions:

  1. Can music affect change? How?
  2. What is a song that you think is powerful? Explain why.
  3. What is Amnesty International? What do they do?
  4. What was happening in history that made these songs or artists important?

Learning Goals:

  • analytical writing skills and structure
  • use of connecting phrases
  • vocabulary for social justice and music
  • descriptive vocabulary for describing music
What does Amnesty International do? Why do they have a playlist for social change?


#whereisthelove, the Black Eyed Peas: a band temporarily reunited to continue their fight for racial equality around the world.


Get your rebel on: Music and Revolution playlist created by myself and my students over the years.

Lesson Routines: Many lessons will look like this …

  • Listen to an influential song from Amnesty International playlist
  • Think, Pair, Share: answer questions & discuss the song
  • respond in writing via Classroom or …
  • answer guiding questions about the song in writing

Where is the Love: Lemshaga Style

The lazy, last days of grade nine



Summative: Pop-Up Analysis 

  • Written analysis & presentation of your own song
    • use analytical writing and connecting phrases
    • use relevant vocabulary
    • use citations
    • historical perspective: draw reference to what was happening when the song was written
    • Who was the songwriter? Why did they write the song?

Links to the Swedish Curriculum (LGR11):

Core Content Years 7-9

Content of communication

  • Current and subject areas familiar to the pupils.
  • Interests, daily situations, activities, sequences of events, relations and ethical questions.
  • Views, experiences, feelings and future plans.
  • Living conditions, traditions, social relations and cultural phenomena in various contexts and areas where English is used.Listening and reading – reception
  • Spoken English and texts from various media.
  • Spoken English with some regional and social variants.
  • Oral and written instructions and descriptions.
  • Different types of conversations, dialogues, interviews and oral communications.
  • Oral information, discussions
  • Strategies to understand details and context in spoken language and texts, such as adapting listening and reading to the type of communication, contents and purpose.
  • Language phenomena such as pronunciation, intonation, grammatical structures, sentence structure, words with different registers, as well as xed language expressions pupils will encounter in the language.
  • Oral and written narratives, descriptions and instructions.
  • Conversations, discussions and argumentation.
  • Language strategies to understand and be understood when language skills are lacking, such as reformulations, questions and explanations.
  • Language strategies to contribute to and actively participate in conversations by taking the initiative in interaction, giving con rmation, putting follow- up questions, taking the initiative to raise new issues and also concluding conversations.
  • Language phenomena to clarify, vary and enrich communication such as pronunciation, intonation and xed language expressions, grammatical structures and sentence structures.How texts and spoken language can be varied for different purposes and contexts.Different ways of working on personal communications to vary, clarify, specify and adapt them for different purposes.

     Knowledge requirements for grade e at the end of year 9

    Pupils can understand the main content and basic details in English spoken at a moderate pace and in basic texts in various genres. Pupils show their under­ standing by presenting an overview with discussion and comments on content and details and also with acceptable results act on the basis of the message and instructions in the content. To facilitate their understanding of the content of the spoken language, pupils can choose and apply a strategy for listen­ing. Pupils can choose texts and spoken language from different media and with some relevance use the selected material in their own produc­ tion and interaction.

    In oral and written production, pupils can express themselves simply, under­ standably and relatively coherently. To clarify and vary their communication, pupils can work on and make simple improvements to their communications. In oral and written interaction in different contexts, pupils can express them­ selves simply and understandably and also to some extent adapted to purpose, recipient and situation. In addition, pupils can choose and apply basically functional strategies which to some extent solve problems and improve their interaction.

    Pupils discuss in overall terms and make simple comparisons with their own experiences and knowledge.