Teach the Beat!

Bringing the distinctive D.C. sound of go-go into the classroom.

Teaching for Change is honored to work with D.C.  area schools and the authors of The Beat! Go-Go Music from Washington, D.C. to develop lessons and share teaching ideas for infusing the history and music of go-go in middle and high school social studies, language arts, math, music, and/or D.C. history classes, and to bring renowned go-go performers into D.C. classrooms.

"Go-go has stayed true to time-honored cultural scripts such as live call-and-response, live instrumentation, as well as its locally rooted fashions, slang, dance, distribution and economic systems. Simply put: Go-Go never sold out. There is a grit and texture to the music that gives voice to the communities where it was created." –Natalie Hopkinson



Meet the Beat

This is an introductory lesson to acquaint students with key people and issues in a unit of study on go-go in the DC metro area. It serves as a pre-reading activity for books and articles on go-go.  The lesson format is a “mixer” or “meet and greet” where students take on the role of a key person, place, institution, or object. In their role, they try to find answers to a designated list of questions by interviewing their peers, who are also in role. They begin with informational questions and then regroup for questions that require critical thinking and analysis, such as: What role does go-go play in understanding gentrification? and Why did go-go emerge in DC and why is DC one of the few cities in the U.S. to have its own music form?

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Go-Go Gallery Walk

This activity invites participants to explore the history of go-go using text and images in a gallery walk. The gallery walk includes information about bands, instruments, clubs, and other components that make up go-go. This activity should take between 20-30 minutes.

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Lessons from a Go-Go Beat: How it all comes together?

This lesson will help students identify elements from other musical and cultural traditions that have been incorporated into go-go. They also learn to make an argument for which elements adapted by go-go were the most influential and necessary in the development of go-go music.

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the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Image credits: Thomas Sayers Ellis