Exploring History Through Song

Diane Taraz

On Tuesday, third graders welcomed Diana Taraz, director of the Lexington Historical Society Colonial Singers, as a guest lecturer in their Expedition on the life and times of Paul Revere. Taking students on a musical tour of the eighteenth century, Taraz presented a sampling of “broadside ballads,” story-songs that were set to pre-existing tunes and sung as entertainment throughout colonial society. Students were fascinated by the rich imagery through which colonists conveyed their conflicting feelings about British rule.

Studying the ballads also opened a door to a discussion of language and poetic style. Students recognized the recurring devices through which colonial lyricists altered words to make them rhyme, or rearranged sentences to fit the meter. These devices will be useful as they begin to write their own ballad in the Colonial style to share their knowledge of Paul Revere.