Copyright

George Gershwin Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about George Gershwin and his brother Ira Gershwin with this lesson plan. Students will study a text lesson, take a related follow-up quiz, and participate in activities to reinforce main concepts.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Describe the relationship between George and Ira Gershwin
  • Identify the styles of music he played
  • Name some of his greatest works
  • List some of the famous people with whom he collaborated
  • Summarize details of his personal life

Length

1-1.5 Hours

Materials

  • Access to the Internet
  • Audio copy of Rhapsody in Blue to play to the students (16:27 in length)
  • Copies of the text lesson George Gershwin: Biography, Songs & Facts along with the accompanying lesson quiz.
  • Images of George and Ira Gershwin
  • Paper
  • Preprinted worksheets with ten significant events in George's life, and the matching years, not in order.
  • Writing utensils

Key Vocabulary

  • Blues
  • George Gershwin
  • Ira Gershwin
  • Irving Berlin
  • Jazz
  • Paul Whiteman
  • Piano
  • Song Plugger
  • Stephen Foster
  • Tin Pan Alley

Curriculum Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Instructions

  • Inform your students they will be studying the life of legendary musician George Gershwin, along with his brother Ira Gershwin.
  • Display images of the two brothers.
  • Review the vocabulary terms.
  • Hand out copies of the text lesson George Gershwin: Biography, Songs & Facts.
  • Read the introduction and first section 'Early Life.'
    • How old was George when he died?
    • How old was Ira when he died?
    • Where was George's first music job and how much did it pay?
    • Who did George idolize?
    • What was his first job after he dropped out of high school?
    • Where was it and how much did it pay?
    • What types of music did he compose?
  • Now, read the section 'More Success.'
    • What is a rhapsody and what famous one did George write?
    • How many of the five preludes that he wrote in 1926 are missing?
  • Next, read the section 'Collaboration with Ira.'
    • Of the two brothers, who wrote the music and who wrote the lyrics?
    • How many scores did they co-produce?
    • What were some other famous Gershwin works?
  • Next, read the section 'Untimely Death.'
    • Where did George move to after leaving New York City?
    • He worked on a film for which two famous dancers?
    • What caused his untimely death?
  • Finally, have the students read the 'Lesson Summary' and then review the entire lesson, answering any relevant student questions.
  • Pass out the lesson quiz and have students complete it on their own.

Activity One

  • Have the students work in small groups.
  • Let them know they will have to match up ten significant events in the life of George Gershwin with the correct year of the event.
  • Pass out the preprinted worksheets.
  • The events are as follows:
    • George was born
    • George died
    • The parents buy a piano
    • George dropped out of high school
    • George lands his first summer job
    • George publishes his first song
    • George records his first hit song
    • George's first show was produced
    • George presented five preludes to the public
    • George began collaborating with Ira
  • The years are as follows:
    • 1898,1937, 1910, 1913, 1914, 1916, 1919, 1920, 1924, 1926
  • Review the exercise and answer any pertinent questions.

Activity Two

  • Gershwin was very versatile, and one of his achievements includes the movie Shall We Dance (1937.) Have the students remain in their small groups.
  • Have them use the Internet or other sources to research the movie. Ask them:
    • Who were the main characters?
    • Who played the lead roles?
    • What was the famous production company?
    • How long was the movie?
    • What is the plot of the movie?
    • What is the theme of the movie?

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