Music in Lessons: Weimar Germany

Weimar Germany

Music can play an incredibly powerful part in developing understanding of any period of time. It’s also a great way of engaging pupils. Here are a few suggestions on how Music can be used to enhance Teaching and Learning of content relating to the Weimar era of German History.

Music can be used for several purposes. It can help create a sense of period, can be used to set the pace and tone of an exercise (ie through use as a timer) or can be manipulated to raise levels of engagement and provide an alternative means of creativity in lessons. For songs about the era, or written as contemporary critiques of the era, the lyrics can be analysed as an interpretation task.

To develop a sense of period and provide an audible ‘feel’ for what Weimar Germany was like there the playlist provided by Russel Tarr on Activehistory.co.uk is a great place to start. It, like the songs mentioned on this list, are ideal as stimulus material and as most are from the period are excellent for using alongside other materials to enhance an understanding of what Weimar Culture was like.

Music that is NOT contemporary can also be used though. The example below is perhaps a little on the cheesy side but the accompanying imagery and the style of the music do introduce the concept of Weimar art (annoyingly) quite well.

 

Lyrics can be analysed alongside listening to a piece of relevant music. The Horst Wessel Song is an example of how the Rise of the Nazi Party during the Weimar Era can be studied through analysis and use of music. The Song Lyrics can be found here and a video of the song being sung at a rally can be viewed here.

Music from other eras can be used for purposes of engagement and to help pace sections of lessons. This video about Hyperinflation, for example, uses modern music as the background for events decades ago to good effect. Another method is to ask pupils to combine image and source selection tasks with lyric rewriting tasks to create their own interpretation of an event. There are several (not Germany specific) examples of this being done on this list of Music in History songs and videos.

There is a good, short, academic article about Music and the Arts of the Weimar period on this page of the University of Nottingham Website.

This website provides a useful background to the origins of Weimar era music, the variety of styles and its Social impact.

 

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