Roll over Beethoven

. October 31, 2012.

Want to get teenagers to listen and learn? Give them Beethoven with a side of Hendrix. At Rudolf Steiner High School “Beethoven to Jimi,” a junior level music course designed to teach cultural history, refines listening skills and exposes students to iconic pieces from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to Hendrix’s version of the Star Spangled Banner. Margot Amrine, a social studies/humanities teacher there, was inspired to develop the class by reading essays from Leonard Bernstein, an American composer renowned for his work on “West Side Story,” and the Steiner curriculum for studying music in the junior year. “Seventeen year-olds generally are really fascinated with Beethoven’s biography. The fact that he had a very different relationship to his patrons than did Mozart or Hayden shows his individuality,” says Amrine. The class moves from classical music into jazz and ends with Hendrix discussing cultural, social and political phenomenon as they go. Two-hour lessons every morning for four weeks give kids a chance to immerse themselves in the subject. Amrine’s enthusiasm has spread: this fall some students who had taken the class called Amrine up and invited her to see the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra perform Beethoven’s 9th live. “I was even more surprised and touched because they were just getting back that very day from a 24 hour bus ride from a coast of Maine biology/oceanography trip,” Amrine says. Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor, 2230 Pontiac Trail. 734-669-9394.