OTAM – Old Time Arts and Music

Musical Community Presentations

This workshop explores programs developed to enhance awareness of historic social problems and of early popular music.
Using sheet music and recordings, students explore early presentations of ethnic stereotyping. The students are asked questions such as: What is the stereotype being shown here? How did the music contribute to stigmatized views of certain people? Why was it popular? How did the culture change since these songs were popular? Where do we currently see stereotypes in popular culture? What can students do to respond to prejudice and stereotyping?

Examples of sheet music covers from 1850-1930 reveal demeaning perceptions of African Americans (golliwog), Irish Americans (drunkenness) Italian Americans (Dago), Jewish Americans (Hebe).
Examples of historic recordings used: “Eliza Jane”, “Rings on my Fingers”, “Yes, We Have No Bananas” “Becky Stay in Your own Back Yard”, “Jerusalem Rag”,“ Sadie Salome”
Using multi media, teaching plans, and participant discussion, this workshop will address ways that a teacher in any country can utilize historic multimedia resources to explore issues of cultural diversity through music curriculum.

This presentation looks at a time in America when the country had a particular reaction to those who over indulged in drugs, alcohol or even food. Moral outrage, Prohibition and “speak easies” are all reactions to a culture trying to address how to cope with what society saw as “The curse of the working class”.
When this topic was addressed in music and on the stage, two themes emerged:
A self-conscious lampooning of the abuser, and “the tear jerker” that portrayed the travails of those victimized.
The popularity of these songs drew attention to the psychological problems and social dilemmas experienced by many at that time.
Over-consumption was a backdrop to songs that discuss and reveal Americans ambivalence about personal freedom and health.
How is it different today?
Using archival sheet music, historic recordings, song performance, clinical experience and humor, this presentation addresses historic perceptions of alcoholism, drug abuse and eating disorders from 1880-1930.
Goals and Objectives
1) Identify familiar examples of substance abuse disorders and how society’s attempts to control have been seen (and are currently seen) in popular culture
2) Identify examples of anxiety, hostility and moral righteousness that produced songs to attract or remind audiences of current substance abuse dilemmas. How is this handled by entertainment today?
3) Address how the visual and performing arts can be windows of change in social norms and vehicles for raising awareness.
4) Compare past and present examples of psychological and socio cultural reactions to substance abuse to the present.
Materials, Historic Sheet music and recordings of songs such as “ Eat and Grow Thin”, “Father, Dear Father” “ Cocaine Blues”
Prohibition and Temperance songs

Roles of Women as reflected in American Popular Music (1890s-1930s)
After the Civil War, the roles of women changed as the populations shifted. The old fashioned girl now had more opportunity to consider voting, performing and being a strong partner to settle new cities. In American Popular music, and in traveling shows, vaudeville and folk song, the interest and anxiety generated by these changes were reflected. Performance was a place to reveal the tension regarding these possibly threatening changes.
For example: It does appear that the use of these models of woman allowed writers and composers, performers and the audience to generate romantic or tender feelings or to resolve ambivalences about women.
This may be discussed in light of therapeutic and medical changes. The clinical work of Lacan, Freud, and previous diagnoses of the hysteric and neurasthenic personality can be addressed.
Some more visible examples to be presented are:
Mother (From Mammy to Ma Yiddishe Mama and Mother Macree), the Vamp The Red Hot Mama, the "It"' girl, and the ruined pathetic girl “ the Soiled Dove”
Using vocal performance, original recordings and audience discussion, this presentation can be geared towards clinical continuing education, after dinner light entertainment or professional workshop and presentation.

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