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SHEPHERDSVILLE - In the 1950s there was a Rock and Roll movie, “Blackboard Jungle,” featuring Bill Haley and the Comets. In the 1970s it was The Ramones’ singing, “Rock and Roll High School.”
Bullitt Central extends the tradition of Rock music and high school education; Music instructor Amy Cuenca developed a History of Rock and Roll course for Bullitt Central students.
The idea was based originally on necessity when Bullitt Central courses were switched from 90 to 72 minutes.
“We needed to come up with a couple more options for class offerings in music,” said Cuenca. “We added Piano and Music Theory and History of Rock and Roll.”
Cuenca had many students ask for information on private piano lessons. She also knew many students participated in Rock bands.
“Judging from our enrollment there is a strong interest in Rock music in high school kids today,” she said. “Surprisingly, they listen to as many new groups as they do classic Rock bands like Aerosmith and Pink Floyd.”
Rock courses are regularly taught at a college level. With an extensive musical background featuring classical piano and violin, choral singing and elements of Jazz and Rock, Cuenca developed a high school agenda.
“We can study the history of the type of music BC students love while still teaching the elements of music and the other Kentucky Core Content standards listed for high school music students,” she said. “When you get a degree in music education... you teach all types of music from various perspectives.”
A lot of excitement and support from both faculty and students followed the Rock class announcement.
“I had seniors who said they were tempted to stay back a year so they could take the class,” Cuenca said.
Current senior Leia Chaney actually decided on the class with low expectations. She learned more that she anticipated.
“I didn’t know what to take and I wasn’t really looking forward to it,” said Chaney. “However, once I got into it, I found that I really enjoyed it.”
Senior Jessica Barrett also became one of Bullitt Central’s first History of Rock students. A long-time love for the music led her to the class.
“I grew up listening to classic Rock,” said Barrett. “I also love music. In the class I learned what a dulcimer was and I enjoyed that because I like to play guitar.”
Cuenca said making and playing dulcimers in Rock class project featured science and history lessons while showing Appalachian Folk ties to Rock roots.
“Students had to figure out and discuss why some notes on the dulcimer were higher or lower than other notes and what produced the sound,” she said. “Rock and Roll music has especially had a strong impact on politics and the culture in our country. It’s important to talk about these things when we’re discussing the music.”
Students are taught the historical side of social culture along with the history of music itself.
“This gives students a chance to be in a class where they are excited to go and listen to music they love while learning about how that music affected the culture and history of the United States and the world,” Cuenca said. “And, also learning some music theory and the elements of music at the same time.”
“(Rock class) has taken me by surprise because I have learned a lot of history facts about the Baroque period and I think it’s kind of interesting,” Chaney said.
Cuenca credited the new class for bringing music to students that would otherwise shy away from classes due to pre-conceived singing or instrument-playing skills.
“Many high school students are self-conscious about their singing voices and are nervous about joining choir, where other students can hear them sing,” said Cuenca. “However, they still have an interest in music and want to be able to study it in some way.”