Make a 1960s Album Cover - Lesson Plan
Some music of the 1960s was a social commentary and vehicle for social change. Other music celebrated life, the beach, hot rods or told a story. The music reflected the diversity of American culture. People attended live concerts, indoors and out, listened to the radio, and played recordsboth 45s and LP albums.
The diversity of the music during the decade can be seen in the names of some of its most popular performers: Pat Boone, The Beach Boys, Ricky Nelson, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Herman's Hermits, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles,
the Marvelettes, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Diana Ross and the Jackson Five.
Have students listen to a variety of music from the 1960s, then ask
each student to select one song for which to create an album cover.
- Students will listen to a variety of music from the 1960s which will give them a feeling for the diversity of the sounds of the times.
- Students will create images based on the musical sounds and words from the music.
- Students will create liner notes by writing about one particular musician or group of musicians and the kind of music they wrote.
- Students will explore marketing issues. What would attract people to buy the record? What makes people buy the record? Is it the cover? the music itself? the name of the musician?
Michigan Social Studies Curriculum Content Standards
The lesson presents an opportunity to address, in part, these standards:
- 1.22 COMPREHENDING THE PAST: Students will describe the past through the eyes and experiences of those who were there as revealed through their records.
- 4.2 BUSINESS CHOICES: Students will explain and demonstrate how businesses confront scarcity and choice when organizing, producing, and using resources, and when supplying the marketplace.
Records from the 1960s, a record player (or 1960s songs on CD and player), "Golden Oldies," paper, chalk, crayons, paint, colored pencils
- Before you play the music, share some of the information on the back
album cover of the albums with the students so they can learn more about the music and performers.
- Have students listen to the 1960s music and think the songs and the
- Discuss the music based on "Questions for Discussion or Research."
- Have students each design an album cover on paper pre-cut to the size
of an LP album cover (12" x 12") and write their own liner notes for the back of the cover.
Questions for Discussion or Research
- Compare the messages of the 1960s songs you heard. How do they reflect the decade? To which aspects of the decade do each song's lyrics speak?
- Can you describe the past through the eyes and experiences of the 1960s musicians as revealed through their music?
- What would you want to convey on a cover of a 60s record you are selling?
- What do you want to say about the music? the musician?
- What audience are you trying to attract to buy this record?
- How do think record producers plan for a market that might or might
not choose to buy a particular album?
At the Museum
- In the 1960s gallery, listen to some of the songs of the sixties including "I Can't Help Myself," by the Four Tops; "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye; "Heat Wave," by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas; "Tears of a Clown," by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles; "Stop in the Name of Love," by Diana Ross and
the Supremes; "My Girl," by the Temptations; and "For Once in My Life," by Stevie Wonder.
- Compare the 1960s sounds to music you hear in other galleries (Two Cultures, Lumber Baron's Theater, 1930s Labor Gallery, Great Depression, 1930s Bungalow, Arsenal of Democracy). How do they all reflect their own times in history?
- Find Stevie Wonder's harmonica in the music exhibit.
- LP: Long-playing, a phonograph record having microgrooves, for playing at 33-1/3 revolutions per minute (rpm).
- 45: A small phonograph record having microgrooves for playing at 45 revolutions per minute (rpm).
- Liner Notes: Information about the music or performers printed on the back of the cover or jacket of a record, cassette or CD.
- All-Music Guide, A searchable online database of recorded music (Matrix Software, Big Rapids, Michigan)
- "Any Old Way You Choose It": Popular Music as an Introduction to American Studies, essay by Professor Daniel Czitrom
- Bianco, David. Heat Wave: The Motown Fact Book. Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian Press, 1988.
- Carawan, Guy. Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs. Bethelem, PA: Sing Out Corp., 1990. (Originally published by Oak Publications as two volumes: We Shall Overcome, © 1963, and
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, © 1968.
- Stambler, Irwin, and Grelun Landon. Encyclopedia of Folk, Country and Western Music. NY: St. Martins Press, 1969.
- Waller, Don. The Motown Story. NY: Charles Scribner, 1985.
- Ward, Ed, Geoffrey Stokes, and Ken Tucker. Rock of Ages: The
Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll. NY: Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books, 1986.
- Some Famous Michiganians: Michigan Music Industry Personalities
Contact the Michigan Historical Museum.