Preview: Lesson Plans for The Music of Strangers

Tools for 9th and 10th-Grade Teachers Released

August 1, 2016

We are delighted to share the first four lessons of a new curriculum guide to accompany The Music of Strangers. Read Silkroad Founder and Artistic Director Yo-Yo Ma’s introduction to the guide:

Dear Teachers,

I was just seven when my family moved from France to the United States, old enough to understand it was impossible to be in two places at once, but young enough to wish otherwise. Wondering about life in parallel—contemplating similar experiences in different worlds — required curiosity and imagination. I was fortunate early on to discover that music could be a vehicle for exchange, a way to open windows to the world and understand not only my own life but also the lives and experiences of others.

I believe that, just as it has for me, art offers a powerful way to inspire passion and curiosity in young people and to help students and teachers connect with each other, with their neighborhoods and communities, and with the world beyond, including places that are geographically and culturally remote. The inspiration for Silkroad arose from my interest in the movement of people and goods, and the open exchange of ideas and traditions, that took place along the ancient trade routes. My friends in the Silk Road Ensemble — some of whom you will meet in The Music of Strangers — practice an openness that encourages the exchange of ideas. In the past 16 years, we’ve discovered that curiosity, imagination, and wonder are keys to understanding, allowing us to embrace our differences and celebrate the joy we find in one another.

I hope that, together with the personal stories captured in the film, the lessons contained here will help you and your students explore what can happen when people from different cultures meet and share their artistic traditions.

Art has changed my life. It has given me the tools to understand my own experience and inspired me to discover the connections we all share. I believe it can open the world for your students, too, making them eager to ask new questions and to meet the world they do not know.

— Yo-Yo Ma