Friday, December 10, 2010

Rush, the band, - some great songs for education

Rush, the Canadian rock band, is one of my favorites. Their music is been described as "rock for smart people" because of the lyrical content. They are also incredible musicians.

Rush has a couple of songs that are great for educators to use in their classes. Yes, they are not a new band, but I've been surprised at how many of my students (in an urban school) like Rush. They are also still touring and making new music, so they are still in the news. And, a recent AT&T commercial shows a guy wearing a Rush shirt buying a Rush onesie for his kid. The onesie is really available to buy too.

The first one is "Countdown." Rush went to the shuttle launch on April 12, 1981 and the experience was so intense that they wrote a song about it. The lyrics and music really describe the event and feelings well. The song also has actual NASA radio transmissions in it. I sow the video as a intro to our rockets lesson at the end of the school year. It gets the students in a great mood and excited to do the unit. The really cool part is that the Astronomy teacher at my old high school was there and met the band and let them use his telescope. Very cool for us as students back then! Video. Lyrics.

Natural Science - Natural Science is a long song, but a great one. It talks about nature and science and how we must be careful with how we deal with both and their interactions. Read the lyrics and see how this could stimulate some great discussions in science and policy classes. Video/Muisc. Lyrics.

2112 - 2112 is a very long, multi-part song that is all about a future society where computers rule and control everything and there is no music and the story of a hero who rises up to try to share music with the world. It was inspired by some of the writings of Ayn Rand. This is definitely a song that can be used to discuss government control, computers, music and taking music out of school. Video/Music - you'll have to pick multiple ones for the whole thing as they are in parts. Lyrics.

Closer to the Heart - A very popular song of theirs, "Closer to the Heart" talks to the fact that people need to be better in what they do and not let greed, hate, and war run things. We must truly think and act "closer to the heart." This would be a great song to lead off a discussion on kindness, behavior, corporate greed, and so much more. Video/Music. Lyrics.

There are many, many more also. "Manhattan Project" is about the creation of the atomic bomb. "Red Sector A" is about life in a prison camp and how the prisoners wondered if the anybody else in the world existed. "Noboby's Hero" attacks actors and sports figures as NOT being heroes and describes who hero's are."

Their lyrics tend to probe lots of different issues and many of their songs can be used in school. Songs talk about relationships, corporate greed, personalities, chance and luck, human emotions and the human condition, and much, much more. The RUSH homepage and the Rush Wikipedia page are great places to start looking for more songs to use. If you see a title that sounds interesting, look up the lyrics. As I remember more, I'll post them. If you have a topic in your class that you are looking for some interesting music to use with, let me know and I'll see what I can come up with.

There are a lot of great popular songs that can be used in education (Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire"). Using music in other classes can help get students interested and engaged.

Why not use music to make other topics more interesting?


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