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The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson

by August Wilson

Arts and Culture: Music Theme

You might not be surprised that a play entitled The Piano Lesson is full of music. The play features many types of music throughout, specifically focusing on African-American styles. The blues, boogie-woogie, the work song, and the railroad song all make an appearance. In this way, the play serves as a document of these important aspects of not only African-American but American culture. By the end of the play, however, music is elevated to an even higher purpose. When the piano of the play's title is used to channel the spirits of the dead, music is shown to be a powerful medium though which humanity can access the divine.

Questions About Arts and Culture: Music

  1. What are some different types of music heard throughout the play?
  2. The songs the characters sing often chronicle moments of African-American history. What are some examples of this throughout the play?
  3. Doaker and Wining Boy fill the role of griot, or African storyteller. How do the songs they sing help them fill this role?
  4. In what ways is music connected to spirituality in The Piano Lesson?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Throughout The Piano Lesson music is used to communicate with the dead.

The Piano Lesson includes several different types of African-American music, including the blues, the railroad song, and the work song.

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