Tippecanoe School Corporation
Students celebrate Black History Month through music
Sue Scott

When the song “Rhythm Nation” comes on in Kelly Caudill’s choir classes at Wainwright Middle School, the students start tapping and nodding to the beat. 

“I know that song,” says seventh grader Alex Baker.

As part of Black History Month, Caudill highlights someone from the book “A is for Aretha: 26 Trailblazing Black Women Who Changed Music from A to Z.” Each day she plays a song and shares a slide with information from the featured artist. There is one artist for every letter in the alphabet.

“I want my students to see how music is used to express feelings and beliefs,” says Caudill. “For example, Billie Holiday was one of the first artists to speak out against injustice. Gloria Gaynor's song ‘I Will Survive’ became an anthem for anyone facing oppression and challenges. India Arie's songs support self-care and inspire people to prioritize their mental well-being.”

Sixth grader Keltyn Page was amazed watching a video of artist Hazel Scott playing “Black and White:” “How can she play both pianos at the same time?”

Choir teacher Kelly Caudill shares information about a Black musician

In music classes at Hershey Elementary and Dayton Elementary, students are celebrating the contributions of Black musicians by moving, singing and playing along with instruments. The artists include Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and Louis Armstrong.

“The lesson includes a brief bio, a picture, and listening, moving or playing along to one of the artist’s most recognizable or influential songs,” says teacher Julie Baumann. “The students have responded positively overall. They get excited when they recognize a song and now can put an artist’s name and face to it.”

Both teachers say they hope students will recognize the songs and artists outside the classroom and gain a deeper appreciation for their music.

Hershey students play along with rhythm sticks
Hershey Music Students