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Teaching Themes in Shakespeare through Music

written by: Lady Lit•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 11/15/2012

Your students will find Shakespeare more relevant and interesting by choosing songs that relate to themes found in the plays.

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    Many educators are aware of the fact that when students hear the name “Shakespeare," their eyes begin to roll backward in their heads. To a high school student, Shakespeare’s plays are simply the works of some dead old man, and it is no secret that many students find the writings of Shakespeare challenging.

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    Student Engagement Through Music

    One way to make Shakespeare’s plays engaging for students is to have students read the play and discuss the events in the plays. This project would be more beneficial if teachers would center their discussion of the play or literary work around the play’s thematic elements. After discussing the play with students, assign students the task of identifying seven themes in the play, and for each theme, students must identify a song that contains a similar message as does the theme.

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    Other Possible Options

    There are several other steps teachers can add to this project. Students could make an art design jacket, which would serve as the cover for this compact disc if teachers wish to expand this project into the creation/publication of a compact disc. This art design should be an overall image that ties the project together and adds a bit of cohesion to the overall package. Also, teachers could make students present their work, requiring students to explain why they selected the songs they did and how the songs relate to the themes. Teachers should remember to ask students about their artwork that they chose, what inspired their artistic rendering and so on.

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    Though this project is extremely effective, teachers need to provide students with a disclaimer concerning song lyrics. Teachers need to remind students that they should select songs that contain appropriate lyrics. Teachers may require students to submit a copy of the lyrics of each song they selected when the final project is due.

    Do you have any interesting ideas for teaching Shakespeare?