It may be Holocaust Remembrance Day, but here at HB, students have been immersed in the history of this tragic time period since the start of the school year. As part of a history and music collaboration, Hathaway Brown sophomores have been the beneficiaries of innovative and thoughtful curriculum that seeks to immerse them in elements of culture as they explore and connect on deeper and more meaningful levels with some of the historical happenings from the 18th-20th centuries that have defined the human experience.
Two years in the making, a unique history and music co-curricular collaboration has been spearheaded by Upper School History Teacher Libby Seidel Stineman ’03 and Vocal Arts Department Director Laura Main Webster ’91. The multilayered and synthesized teaching method developed by these two gifted educators has proven to be enormously instructive and energizing.
This year, there are three focal points of the collaboration: the Industrial Revolution (Beethoven, Romanticism, and the Creation of New Instruments); the Russian Revolution (Stalin the Dictator vs. Shostakovich the Composer); and the Holocaust (Violins of Hope and The Children of Willesden Lane).
Currently immersed in the history of the Holocaust, students are learning through different year-long mediums, field trips, and speakers. In the fall, students went to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and on December 3, 2015 to Severance Hall to see the Violins of Hope exhibit and hear pieces from the exhibit come to life courtesy of the Cleveland Orchestra. Prior to both field trips, students used materials provided by Facing History and Ourselves and the Cleveland Orchestra in order to understand the significance of the violins they view, as well as the musical pieces and composers who wrote them, in order to make their experiences more meaningful.
In the spring, students will read a poignant book, The Children of Willesden Lane, about a young girl named Lisa Jura who is sent to England on the Kindertransport, and how she uses music as hope for her and the ones around her. (And hopefully, students will be able to attend a live performance by Lisa’s daughter, Mona Golabek, in March.) As a culmination to this unit, Joe Klein (pictured at right in 2015 at HB), a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, will come speak to the students and provide a unique opportunity for them to hear a first-hand account of what it was like to live through a horrific time in history.
Throughout the duration of the course, students are asked to think reflectively both individually and as a group.
Learn more about this collaboration at hb.edu/historymusic.