The Center for American Music, a department within the University of Pittsburgh's Library System, has been awarded a $146,705 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to host a summer institute for schoolteachers. The institute, entitled "Voices Across Time: American History Through Song," will be codirected by Deane Root, chair of the Department of Music and director of the center, and Mariana Whitmer, project coordinator at the center. The institute will allow 25 secondary schoolteachers to explore topics in American history through the lens of music. Voices Across Time will take place July 12–August 13, 2004, at the University of Pittsburgh, sponsored by the Center for American Music.
In addition, the grant is one of 29 projects designated as We the People projects that will explore significant issues in U.S. history and culture for teachers and the general public. "NEH's We the People projects capture the imagination and articulate the guiding principles of our Republic. They reinvigorate our citizens' understanding of America's unique legacy of liberty," said NEH Chair Bruce Cole.
"Music sends messages about the lives and values of the people who produced, performed, and consumed it," is how Root describes the philosophy behind the project. "Music is also an accessible medium, one highly desired by children and attractive to them." The Voices Across Time summer institute will expand upon previously completed research based on these two principles. Specifically created to help teachers use music to teach history to students in grades 7 through 12 and adaptable for other grade levels and subjects, Voices Across Time, which was funded through the support of the Vira I. Heinz Endowment and the Grable Foundation, is a resource guide consisting of nine units, each dedicated to a different historical era. Voices Across Time teaches skills that teachers and students can use to decipher the messages encoded in the music while attracting the attention of the students with original music from every era. Voices Across Time helps to broaden students' understanding of the people who lived the events they study in all their ethnic, political, and socioeconomic diversity.