Fine Arts Appreciation I

Jared Chester

Fine Arts Appreciation I

Students enrolled in this online course will be introduced to music of the 20th century and how it affected the culture of America. Units to be covered may include, but not be limited to Jazz, Rock n Roll, Motown, and Hip Hop.

Credits: 0.5 (per semester)
Estimated Completion Time: 1 semester/9-18 weeks
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“I liked learning about things I didn’t know about and more about things I already enjoyed.”
“I learned more about music and the history of the music.”Student Survey Responses

Unit 1 – JAZZ

Jazz is often considered America’s first musical invention. Jazz music grew out of African-American communities in the South in the late 1800s and the early 1900s after slavery was abolished and many freed slaves set out to look for work. Due to strict segregation laws in the South, they had trouble finding work in traditional places of employment. Most of those segregation laws didn’t apply to entertainment gigs. African-Americans began being hired to perform music in vaudeville and variety shows, where an upbeat music called ragtime became popular. In New Orleans, this music was transformed into jazz.

Since New Orleans is a port city, people from all over the world came by boat every day, and began bringing musical traditions from their home countries into New Orleans’ nightclubs and entertainment venues. These forms of music blended together to become a lively blend known as jazz. This unit will explore the beginning of jazz leading up to the next unit: Rock and Roll.


Imagine what life would be like without any Rock and Roll or Pop music. What would we play or watch on our iPods, car radios, and other devices? What would we sing along with or dance to when we are hyped, excited, or inspired? It’s so hard to imagine life without Rock and Roll these days, because it’s everywhere.

Did you know that Rock and Roll music didn’t even exist until the 1950s? Much of the same music that existed before that was Classical, Folk, Jazz, Blues, or Big Band with singers like Frank Sinatra. People performed ball room or couples dancing, but they didn’t sing or dance quite like we do now. Through this unit we are going to look at the history of Rock and Roll and how it influenced, and still influences, American culture.

Unit 3 – MOTOWN

Motown Records was founded by music producer Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959. After getting his start as a songwriter for singers in the Detroit area, he wanted to try his hand at producing. He began signing local artists to his new label, Tarria, which later became Motown Records. The songs released by his label showed a signature sound – big, bold orchestrations of jazz, blues, and R&B styles. These songs reflected the largely African-American culture of the Detroit area, which Gordy called “The Sound of Young America”.

Many of the artists Gordy signed to Motown went on to become legendary, like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and the Jackson Five. From 1961 to 1971, Motown had 110 top 10 hit songs. The songs recorded on the Motown label inspired countless musicians, and the artists who performed the songs paved the way for African-Americans in entertainment.

In this unit, we are going to look at Motown and its influence on American culture.


Starting in the ’70s, rock and roll started to fragment into many subcategories. In this unit you will look at these subcategories along with the bands that are associated with the subcategories.

The 1980s saw the emergence of dance music and new wave. As disco fell out of fashion in the decade’s early years, genres such as post-disco, Italo disco, Euro disco and dance-pop became more popular. Rock music continued to enjoy a wide audience. Soft rock, glam metal, thrash metal, shred guitar characterized by heavy distortion, pinch harmonics and whammy bar abuse became very popular. Adult contemporary, quiet storm, and smooth jazz gained popularity.

In late ’80s, glam metal became the largest, most commercially successful brand of music in the United States and worldwide. The 1980s are commonly remembered for an increase in the use of digital recording, associated with the usage of synthesizers, with synth-pop music and other electronic genres featuring non-traditional instruments increasing in popularity.

Throughout the decade, R&B, hip hop and urban genres were becoming commonplace, particularly in the inner-city areas of large, metropolitan cities. Rap was especially successful in the latter part of the decade, with the advent of the golden age of hip hop. These urban genres, particularly rap and hip hop, would continue their rise in popularity through the 1990s and 2000s.


With the internet being such a big part of our lives, music has become digitized and shared. This has a major impact on music and how it is sold worldwide. In this unit, you will look at music in the 21st century and what music might look like in the future.

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