Themed Lesson: United States

themed lesson thumbnails

Age Range: All Ages

Introduction: In this lesson, activities are paired with listening suggestions to help listeners discover and enjoy music inspired by the United States. Select activities listed below based on time allotted, classroom goals, and student needs. 

Total Music Time: 15:59

Free Downloads:


  1. Choose one or more pieces listed below. Each selection below includes a short introduction for context.

    • Florence Price was inspired by many things, including landscapes and nature in the United States. This piece is about a tree. It’s called The Oak.

    • Augusta Read Thomas wrote Fanfare of Hope and Solidarity with the intention of having it performed during celebrations like Memorial Day and Fourth of July. The piece had its premiere, or first performance, in May of 2020, during a time of quarantine and social distancing. As you listen, think about how this music expresses hope.

    • Lou Harrison was very connected to the west coast of the United States, living in Portland, Oregon, and various places around the Bay Area in California. He was influenced by music from Asia and incorporated a wide variety of instruments into his music. Listen to his Homage To Pacifica. Harrison was very politically active. In the piece below, you can hear parts of We Shall Overcome, a famous civil rights anthem.

    • William Grant Still wrote many pieces inspired and influenced by landscapes across the country. This piece is a musical depiction of the Grand Teton mountains.

  2. After each piece you listen to, journal or discuss the following questions:

    • Can you describe some musical characteristics of this piece?

    • Did you like the piece of music? Why or why not?

    • What music sounds like the United States to you?


Use a ribbon, scarf, or students’ hands to “paint” in the air while listening to one or more of the pieces in the playlist at the end of this lesson. Prompt students to follow the highs and lows of the melody with their hands.


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Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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