As a team, you will work together to gather information and then spread it throughout your designed exhibit. You will then virtually present your museum to the class in a powerpoint presentation.


Step 1. In order to get the necessary background information on the topic, read the questions below and then watch the following short film on Appalachian music and culture.  Then, get together with your group and discuss your answers to the questions:,128

Step 2.   Think about the possible research topics that were raised in the movie and brainstorm with your group partners.  Divide up topics for research among your group.  Though you are free to expand on the topics, you must organize them in the following chronological order:  

Step 3. Now start your individual research.  Each group member is to navigate the links at the bottom of each respective topic.   Get familiar with the subject and compile all information you feel is important for your exhibit.  Be sure to carefully cite all your sources.  Once you have exhausted all the posted links, feel free to continue your own research using Google.

Step 4. Meet again with your group to categorize all of the research found.  Determine what information is important and how it will best be presented to people who are visiting the exhibit.  Again, make sure all documentation is cited.

Step 5. In PowerPoint, draw up a design of your museum and label each specific area of the exhibit.  Include pictures, videos, audio recordings, and any other information which helps support the exhibit.  Provide each powerpoint with a clear written description of the content.  The viewers should be able to watch and understand your powerpoint without any narration. 

Step 6. Final paper: After the exhibit is completed, each member of the group is to write a 2-3 page double spaced paper explaining the content of their part of the exhibit and how they chose to design the exhibit.  Carefully edit the paper and cite all research that was used (see rubric).

Step 7.  Present the Powerpoint demonstration to the class.

Bonus:  Go the extra mile for President Obama and his daughters!  Do one of the following extra credit projects:






Area A:  The Early Celtic Roots

In order to understand Appalachian music, it is very helpful to explore its Scotch-Irish roots.  Watch these short films to get a feel for the style of this music.  Then, follow other links to get acquainted with the early history of the Scotch-Irish in the United States.









Area B:   Traditional Old Time Appalachian Music


The music that the Scotch-Irish brought into the mountains of Appalachia instantly began to be influenced by different cultures.  The introduction of new instruments and different rhythmical beats gave rise to a music that was uniquely American. Watch these short films to get a feel for the style of this music.  Then, follow other links to get acquainted with this music's history and the many cultural forces that had a hand in creating its sound.



  • Here's a video of North Carolina Old Time Fiddler,Tommy Jarrel.  Notice the three instruments that have been added to the mix since the old Scotch-Irish days-- guitar, banjo, and Mandolin:




Here's a video of Norman Blake playing his tune Billy Gray's Lament.  This is an excellent example of an Old Time style ballad:



  • Article from Smithsonian Folkways discussing the emergence of old time string band music in Virginia:
  • Article From The traditional Music Library, an excellent archive of traditional Celtic and American music:


Area C:  The Birth of Bluegrass


In the 1930's a new faster paced style of music called "Bluegrass" grew out of the Old Time Appalachian music style.  Bluegrass combined the lonely sound of Appalachian music with the fast pace of jazz.  Bill Monroe is often called the father of Bluegrass.  He once described the music like this:

 "It's got a hard drive to it. It's Scotch bagpipes and old time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz and it has a high lonesome sound. It's plain music that tells a good story. It's played from my heart to your heart, and it will touch you." 

Watch the clips below and read about its history.  Consider how Bluegrass is different than Old Time Appalachian music and consider how it is the same. 



  • Here is the Jeff and Vida Band playing an old time tune called Shady Grove.  Compare how different their modern bluegrass style is to the old time style used by Jean Ritchie:


  • This video is of Western North Carolina's Steep Canyon Rangers.  They are one of the new upcoming bluegrass bands and their sound is often thought to represent the direction of bluegrass in the future.  Compare their instrumentation to Old Time music and even older styles of bluegrass like Bill Monroe. 




  • This is a great article from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) that discusses the history of bluegrass:








Don't forget the Bonus!  You were contacted at the last minute by the people at the Smithsonian.  They said President Obama and his daughters are planning to visit the booth.  He asked if your group could make the booth more interactive for his daughters.  He wants you to show them how instruments are made.  Also, he wishes to commission members of your group to write and perform an Appalachian style song.  Don't let them down!