With the help of the Hartel Grant, on Nov. 15, 2016 Instructor Lori Smith’s Freshman Year Seminar (FYS) class of fifteen students visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland to continue their exploration of the evolution of this style of music. The grant funded admission, lunch at the Rock Hall Café, and all travel expenses.
This year’s FYS course introduced students to three ways of knowing the world—the social sciences; the humanities and fine arts; and the natural sciences, as well as having a focus on the special topic about the historical development of rock and roll. Once again this class introduced Marietta College students to the social, cultural, economic, and stylistic history of this music. They learned that rock music evolved among many different ethnic and social groups and was a convergence of many musical styles.
In addition to in-depth studies of this genre, students learned about the artists who created it and the conditions that influenced its development. Although it is difficult to define because of the blurring of musical boundaries and continued evolution, through this course students learned that music contributed to social change during the civil rights, anti-war, and women’s rights movements.
The museum features seven floors of exhibits, plus five movie theaters, and interactive listening stations. One special exhibit this year, Louder than Words, Rock, Power and Politics, helped students explore the power of rock to change attitudes about patriotism, peace, equality and freedom, from the Vietnam-era protests to current political activists. According to the Rock Hall, this exhibit “explores how artists exercise their First Amendment rights, challenge assumptions and beliefs, stimulate thought and effect change.”
Freshman student Tom Farish of Brunswick, Ohio said, “I feel like the trip and class helped provide a new perspective on Rock and Roll and its effect on our world.”
Farish recalls when he previously visited the Rock Hall, he would tend to rush past all of the older exhibits dealing with the Roots of Rock so I could see what he deemed was the cool stuff like The Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix. Although, since taking this class, he found that he had a different experience.
“But now after learning, reading, and listening to early R & B and Country and Western, the earlier sections fascinated me. In fact, I spent most of my time there on the trip. It was really cool to be able to find something new to enjoy even after so many visits,” Farish said.
After the visit the students produced a final project that had to explore, explain, reflect, describe, and/or recreate in a compelling way their visit to Cleveland’s Rock Hall. They had to react to the experience and the information provided to show how music has changed our world. They could write about as many exhibits as they wished, but were asked to put a special focus on their favorite.