Schroeder must give a report to the school on American music. Lucy decides to combine her report on great American women with Schroeder’s report on music. Schroeder isn’t happy with this idea but the teacher tells him to put up with it. The whole mess is entertaining and informative, covering many aspects of American popular music through the 1920s as well as describing the contributions of a potpourri of American composers, famous American women and black leaders.
Children will enjoy this film even if they are not familiar with the Peanuts characters.
This film will introduce children to the origins of several genres of American music, including Spirituals, the Blues, Ragtime, and Jazz with passing references to American composers, famous American women and black leaders.
Your child will be intrigued to learn that this cartoon has some relationship to real events. Review the Helpful Background section and talk about the music and the musicians described in this film. You will not be able to cover everything but do the best you can. Immediately after the movie, or at odd times over the next week (for example at the dinner table or in the car on the way to school) bring up some of the Discussion Questions, starting with the Quick Discussion Question. Don’t worry if you can only get through a few questions. Just taking the film seriously and discussing it is the key. Allow your child to watch the movie several times and continue to ask and help him or her to answer more discussion questions.
To enhance the educational value of this film, parents need only watch it with their children and comment on two or three points made in the movie. For example, if a child takes music lessons and has played a song by one of the composers mentioned in the film, remark on that. Or if a child has a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar in his or her coin collection, point that out. If a child has visited a museum or the locale of the lives of any of the composers or the heroes described in the film, mention that. Additional helpful background is set out below.
Schroeder usually plays his piano with a bust of Ludwig Von Beethoven sitting on top of the piano. This is one of the constants of the Peanuts cartoons. It spoofs, in a mild way, the veneration in which classical musicians hold Beethoven. For an excellent film about Beethoven, made expressly for children ages 9 – 12, see Beethoven Lives Upstairs.
Perhaps the most interesting point made by this film is that various forms of music changed and evolved into other forms, i.e., Spirituals evolved into black church music; church music came from gospel; New Orleans funeral and parade music was the predecessor for Jazz and plantation walkabouts and dances developed into Ragtime.
This Learning Guide was last updated on December 17, 2009.