In this lesson, students will analyze song lyrics and then choose their own soundtrack to go along with the novel "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.
After using The Graduate as a comparison to the novel, another great place to venture for some cross curricular lessons is into the realm of music. After all, it was the soundtrack at first that made Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson so very unforgettable. Just think, if only Holden had been provided with a soundtrack to go along with his story, how even more unforgettable the novel would be. Allow your students to explore their musical side as they work in groups to create a soundtrack for the novel.
Before they begin, explain to them how important it is that the songs they select relate to a person or event in the novel in some way. Use the downloadable song lyrics for David Gray’s song “My Oh My" and have students listen to it and analyze it, using quotes from the novel as a backup, to relate the song to Holden’s life experiences. Once you feel they truly understand how complex music can be when it is discussing emotion, then you are ready to move on to the next assignment.
Distribute the Song Assignment handout which can be downloaded here and break students into groups of your choosing. Give them a week to create their CDs and present them to the class. Ask for a copy of each group’s CD and you can play them at various times throughout the rest of the unit on the novel, and throughout the rest of the year. This is a fun project that students really seem to enjoy because it allows them to think outside of the box and to discuss music with their peers. They’ll be singing their way to an A and so will you!