NEH Landmarks in American History and Culture

NEH logo

Duke Ellington and the Development of American Popular Culture

two workshops for K-12 School Teachers

Workshop 1:  Sunday, June 22 – Saturday, June 28, 2014

Workshop 2:  Sunday, July 6 – Saturday, July 12, 2014

Click here for FAQ

Application procedure & deadline Information

NEH Eligibility Information

How to Apply

NEH Application Cover Sheet

Why study Duke Ellington?

Duke Ellington

Ellington (1899 - 1974) is one of the most influential figures in American music, defying categorization and transcending boundaries.  Through his life and his music, he teaches us how to bridge cultural divides and to be “beyond category,” because the foundation of Ellington’s music comes from deep within American society.  His composing synthesized the indigenous songs of the American people, from field hollers to minstrel songs, from ragtime to Tin Pan Alley, and most importantly, from the blues.  From this amalgamation of America’s music, he created a sound that is America.  He created not only diverse musical ideas, but also diverse cultures and histories; he understood not only what America had been, but also what it could become.  
       “His music sounds like America.” 
                                                        Wynton Marsalis

This workshop is open to all K-12 teachers - not just music teachers. The only requirement is your interest in Ellington, the influence of jazz and Black Americans on the development of popular culture, and a committment to bringing this material back to your students.  Whatever your area of expertise, there will be a way for you to develop and expand on it.  We look forward to working with you!

Overview of Workshops  

NEH Summer Scholars will work with leading experts in the field, as well as a member of Ellington's band, to engage in inquiry-driven exploration of the music Duke Ellington, focusing on eight Anchor Works; the man behind the musician and understanding the social issues that shaped a developing culture; and the people and places who helped shape both the man and his music.  We will visit important sites in New York City, have seminar-style discussions led by our leading experts, use film and sound recordings, do archival research through library databases, and have a live band to play with us and for us! 

These workshops are open to all teachers, regardless of discipline.  No musical experience required, but any you have will be put to use!

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program
do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.