For Teachers

Sounding Out the Presidency

Sounding Out the Presidency Workshop Handout

Dana Gorzelany-Mostak presented this workshop at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas on May 1, 2018. The attached document offers a list of resources for teachers and lesson plan outlines that address campaign playlists and parodies.


Songs in the Key of President C: A Short History of Music on the Campaign Trail (Digital Lecture)

From the 1840 bid of William Henry Harrison, who was “sung into office,” to Donald Trump, who entered the 2016 Republican National Convention to Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” music has played a significant role in presidential campaign pageantry. This lecture traces the history of the campaign song through examples that span from 1840, the first campaign marked by unprecedented musical activity, to the most recent 2016 presidential race in order to shed light on the aural dimension of electoral politics.

This lecture was made possible by the Digital Lectures in American Music initiative, sponsored by the Society for American Music's Education Committee. Aimed at a general audience, each Digital Lecture seeks to explore a compelling topic of broad interest and to engage with contemporary scholarship in American music studies.

Image Description File (closed captioning feature available)


Pins on the Trail

The research assistants at Trax on the Trail have curated a collection of Pinterest Boards with links to campaign music videos, articles, and resources. You can access these boards here



Campaign Music 101 in the Music History Classroom 

Teaching Music History Conference, Berklee College of Music, Boston MA, June 11, 2017
Dana Gorzelany-Mostak (Georgia College), Naomi Graber (University of Georgia), Hanna Lisa Stefansson (University of Georgia), Cameron Steuart (University of Georgia), Mary Helen Hoque (University of Georgia), Sarah Kitts (Georgia College), and Kassie Kelly (Trinity University)

Contributors to Trax on the Trail gave a workshop on how to incorporate campaign music into music history classes at the 2017 Teaching Music History Conference. You can access the slides for our presentation and our handout below. The handout contains campaign music lesson plans and a comprehesive bibliography on the topic.

Teaching Music History Conference Handout

Teaching Music History Conference Slides


Trax on the Trail and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame join forces to bring you Rock & Roll to the White House 

Kassie Kelly (Trax Education and Outreach Coordinator) and Dana Gorzelany-Mostak (Trax Creator and Co-editor) join forces with Leah Branstetter (Rock Hall Digital Education Coordinator), Mandy Smith (Rock Hall Education Programs Manager), Kathryn Metz (Rock Hall Manager of Education Outreach) and Deanna Nebel (Rock Hall Education Instructor) to bring you an exciting and timely lesson unit that explores the use of rock music in presidential campaigns. Our unit includes footage of artists and politicians opining on intersections between music and politics, a Spotify playlist, images of artifacts from Rock Hall's own museum, and slides to accompany class discussions. You can check out our plan here:

Rock & Roll to the White House

Supplementary Materials for Rock & Roll to the White House

Also check out the other terrific lesson plans available through Rock Hall's Digital Classroom, and their exhibit Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics.


Popular Music in U.S. Presidential Commercials

Candidates typically enter the rally stage to a pop song, but what happens when they use these tunes in their commercials? In this lesson plan, Joanna Love (University of Richmond) offers discussion points and activities for teachers of non-majors who wish to explore the role pop music plays in branding the candidate.

Lecture Notes

Lecture Slides


The History of Presidential Campaign Music 

Eric T. Kasper and Benjamin S. Schoening, authors of Don't Stop Thinking About the Music: The Politics of Songs and Musicians in Presidential Campaigns, bring you a lesson plan that will guide students through the history of campaign music. 

Lecture Notes

Lecture Slides


Trax on the Trail Podcast Series

Trax on the Trail Podcast, Pt. 1 "Super Tuesday Edition," featuring Dana Gorzelany-Mostak and James Deaville WRGC 88.3FM (aired March 1, 2016)

Trax on the Trail Podcast, Pt. 2 "The Candidate Takes the Mic," featuring Brian Barone, James Deaville, Cannon McClain, and Dana Gorzelany-Mostak WRGC 88.3FM (aired April 26, 2016)

Trax on the Trail Podcast, Pt. 3 "Parodying the Presidency," featuring Christianna Barnard, Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, and Sarah Kitts WRGC 88.3FM (aired June 9, 2016)

Trax on the Trail Podcast, Pt. 4 "The Candidates Take On Broadway," featuring Naomi Graber, Elissa Harbert, James Deaville, Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, and Sarah Kitts WRGC 88.3FM (aired July 25, 2016)

Trax on the Trail Podcast, Pt. 5 "The Soundtrack of Populism," featuring Justin Patch, Matthew Jordan, Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, James Deaville, and Cannon McClain WRGC 88.3FM (aired September 22, 2016)

Trax on the Trail Podcast, Pt. 6 "The Empire Strikes Trax," featuring Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, Sam Campbell, Sarah Kitts, and Cannon McClain WRGC 88.3FM (aired November 11, 2016)


Trail Trax: A Campaign Music Database (Poster presented at the 2016 American Musicological Society Conference)

Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, Mark Misinco, Cannon McClain, Sarah Kitts
Georgia College

Trax on the Trail's research on campaign music is facilitated by Trail Trax, a MySQL database that documents music usage on the 2016 campaign trail. Our team of student researchers catalogues:

•    campaign theme song(s)
•    playlists offered online or at rallies, events, or conventions 
•    parody videos on sites such as YouTube and CollegeHumor
•    underscoring used in television or Internet advertisements
•    candidate performances of music
•    artist performances at fundraising events that benefit candidates
•    artist endorsements or complaints about copyright infringement
•    media references to a candidate’s or party’s music.

Trail Trax allows users to run musical searches by composer/performer, date, location, genre, and candidate. Individual entries include a hypertext link to the candidate’s song or video, performance notes, and in some instances, music analysis. The availability of multiple search filters allows users to research the music strategy of a particular candidate, create a snapshot of the soundscape on a given day, investigate the evolution of the soundscape over the course of the election, or create a catalogue of sounds heard in a particular city. Our poster demonstrates the capabilities of Trail Trax as a research tool and outlines strategies for utilizing the database in music history classes.