Topics for Discussion 1:
• Explain how minstrelsy helped construct musical representations of race in the US, by identifying and describing at least one minstrelsy character. Identify the opportunities that both European Americans and African Americans had, to make a living as performers in minstrelsy. The negative aspects are obvious, but identify at least one positive aspect of minstrelsy.
• Explain why ragtime was unique in the context of late-1800s American popular culture. How did the emerging music industry popularize ragtime? Describe how ragtime was initially received by the broader American public – positive or negative. Can you draw parallels between these issues another musical style that emerged in the past 70 years?
• Choose three of the following musical styles – vaudeville, country blues, classic blues, ragtime, jazz. For each style, identify the opportunities that musicians had to make a living as performers, and what kind of venues they might have performed in.