Music in Southcentral Alaska

Southcentral Alaska is very culturally diverse, so this lesson only zones in on two of the many musical styles of the region. Looking at the music of the Dena’ina and Alutiiq people, the activities ask students to consider what values and traditions come through music of Native Alaskans, as well as their own music. They are also asked to ponder the influence of Western culture on  Native music, such as the role of oral tradition vs. Western notation.

I linked my lesson plan to curriculum standards A and B, but it illustrates standard B really well. The Alutiiq music happening right now is rooted in the fact that so much culture has been lost due to colonialism and racism in this state/region. The Suqpiaq and Alutiiq are recovering some traditional songs and preserving the language by putting Alutiiq words to Western songs. The hybridization is a wonderful jumping off point for talking about cultural history and values.

The complete lesson plan can be viewed in PDF form here: MusicofSouthcentralAlaska-culturallyresponsivelessonplan

5 thoughts on “Music in Southcentral Alaska”

  1. Hey, Sophia!

    First of all, I really liked your three essential questions. They are very applicable to any musician! Also, I really enjoyed the variety of activities you had in your lesson plan. They were very descriptive and varied, so any teacher could use all or any of them.

    I loved reading through your iBook section, and I can’t wait to see it in a published view!

    1. Sophia – I like that your lesson does comparing and contrasting of different music from the Dena’ina and Alutiiq people. My favorite part of your lesson was “imagine a people from a different planet lands in your community, observes a family gathering, and wants to take a document home to represent their experience. What kinds of sounds would they hear? How would they write them down?” This would be so fun! It helps students think about their own family traditions, but also connects directly with writing/composing music. I would be so interested to see how students wrote the music down. Lots of great ideas here and I could see how it would fit well into an overall unit.

  2. Hey Sophia,

    You’re right, this lesson illustrates Standard B very well by emphasizing the fact that these musical styles are not “ancient” or even “traditional,” but part of a modern, constantly-developing culture. I enjoy the exercise that has students imagine their family gathering is being observed and documented by outsiders, especially as the students study cultures that might be different from their own. I think the lesson will be thought-provoking and a lot of fun 🙂

  3. Sophia,
    Your lesson plan is well organized, and creative. It will be easy for a Music Teacher to pick it up and use it in classroom. Great job!

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