Students in all levels can use the Banner to foster critical thinking skills: decoding a text, understanding its nuances, and identifying the intent of the author. Think also about the kinds of interesting questions that students of all ages can wrestle with:
- How do we define American? What are the central focus points of dialogue about American identity reflected in cultural expression in general, and music in particular? What are points of controversy and consensus? How do factors of national origin, race, gender, ethnicity, and geography shape this dialogue?
- What are the functions of national symbols? What kinds of symbols – visual, architectural, literary, musical – are most prominent? How do they function to support an evolving national identity? How do they support the forces of cohesion? How can they be manipulated to foster the forces of division?
- How is social dialogue given voice through music? Does music reinforce or reinterpret common understandings of American values? How do specific pieces of music convey messages about national identity? How do the artistic qualities of a musical performance influence our understanding of a musical text and its meaning?
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