Programming Ideas

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965
Site Support Notebook

Note:  In programming for “A Fine Romance,” try to put the music and the composers in the context of their Jewish culture and heritage in at least one program, rather than focusing only on the music.  This can usually be done best by a historian or other scholar with expertise in this area.

An exhibit “teaser” event one or two months before the exhibit arrives to generate interest— possible events include a film showing or musical performance.

A program based on one of the composers from the exhibit, with biography emphasizing the composer’s Jewish cultural roots, the music, and perhaps performance of the music by community members.

Ask community members who are descendants of immigrants to America from 1860-1920 to tell their stories in a library program.  How and why did their families come to America?  How did the new American culture and their own culture blend or conflict?

A program about immigration and the performers and composers who came to America from other countries and musical traditions and were successful.  How do they embody the immigrant experience and help to shape American culture?

Participate in the “National Carry a Tune Week” from October 2-8, 2011, or sponsor your own Carry a Tune week, using the songs of the composers mentioned in the “A Fine Romance” exhibit.

A One Book, One Community program using A Fine Romance by David Lehman, or a popular biography of one of the composers.  Alternatively, a book discussion series using several books.

On the library’s Facebook page, start a discussion of the exhibit and your patron’s favorite songs by the composers in the exhibit, personal immigration experience, favorite albums of the composers mentioned in “A Fine Romance,” favorite Broadway musical, etc.

A community theatre group or a high school group presents scenes from musicals by the composers mentioned in the exhibit.

Create intergenerational programs for community members of different ages to share the music of composers from “A Fine Romance” and to learn about each other’s favorite music.
Look at the contributions of Jewish Americans to our society, exploring biographies, films, diaries, and other materials for inspiration. Bring in a local scholar to discuss particular individuals, especially those that had an influence in your community.

Find people in your community who have family stories, diaries, and/or artifacts related to the “Great American Songbook” and its composers, especially those mentioned in the exhibit.  Ask them to speak at a program and record their stories.  Arrange for a related exhibit of local artifacts.

Performances by community members and musical groups of works by the composers mentioned in the exhibit.  Performers could also talk about the biography/history of the composer whose songs they perform.

A program about the Jewish immigration to the United States. Visit the Jewish American Heritage Month website (, or the American Jewish Experience page of the American Jewish Archives ( for resources to assist with topic ideas, discussion questions, digital resources, and more.

A hands-on workshop, facilitated by a scholar, in which participants explore family history and immigration in the context of the American popular culture, especially music.

Create a public forum for discussion by making space available for written exhibition feedback. For example, pose a question to visitors and make a bulletin board/wall space available for public feedback and comments, or encourage visitors to contribute their comments in an exhibit guestbook. 

Program ideas for younger audiences

Have teens perform songs by the composers mentioned in the exhibit and then write their own songs reflecting their lives.

Focus on one of the musicals in the exhibit in a series of programs for teens.  Listen to the music and the narrative, talk about the composer, and ask teens to design costumes or scenery for the musical.

Enlist a Teen Advisory Board to help plan and promote “A Fine Romance” programs for young adults.

Partner with a local children’s museum on programs about immigration to your area, or Jewish culture in your community. 

Create a documentary shorts contest. Teach youth video production software and invite them to explore exhibition themes via images and sound.

Program ideas with schools

With a lead teacher or teachers, sponsor an “A Fine Romance” curriculum workshop for teachers in your area.

Enlist a teacher or librarian to present a curriculum activity to a library audience of young people.

Encourage teachers at local schools to use exhibition themes in the curriculum during the exhibit’s display period.

Schedule school field trips to see “A Fine Romance.”  Create an educational activity guide for young people to use and discuss while viewing the exhibition (see Websites with lesson plans for teachers for ideas).

 After they view the exhibit, ask older students to serve as exhibit docents for younger classmates. Invite these docents to work together to develop an activity handout for younger audiences to use while visiting the exhibition.

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