Teaching Students About Dire Straits
If you’re looking to expand your students’ musical horizons, consider teaching about the legendary British rock band Dire Straits. Formed in 1977 and taking their name from their difficult financial situation at the time, Dire Straits went on to become an influential and highly successful part of rock music history. Through unconventional guitar techniques, poetic lyrics, and a blend of diverse musical styles, their music remains relevant and inspiring for today’s generation.
Founder and Lead Guitarist: Mark Knopfler
A key figure in the world of rock music, Mark Knopfler is often praised for his fingerpicking guitar technique. Instead of using a pick, he would play with his fingers which imparted a smoother sound to the band’s music. Teaching your students about Knopfler’s unique playing style will inspire them to experiment with various techniques and find their own style as musicians.
Introducing Key Albums
Dire Straits released six studio albums throughout their career. Here are three must-know albums that are essential for understanding the band’s impact on rock music:
1. Dire Straits (1978) – Their debut album includes hits like “Sultans of Swing,” showcasing their distinctive sound characterized by Knopfler’s masterful guitar playing and witty lyrics.
2. Brothers in Arms (1985) – This critically acclaimed album features the iconic tracks “Money for Nothing” and “Walk of Life.” It is one of the first albums to be digitally recorded and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
3. Making Movies (1980) – Often cited as an example of the band’s more cinematic approach to songwriting, this album includes favorites like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Skateaway.”
Dire Straits have had a significant impact on popular culture. For example, the song “Money for Nothing” imitates the birth of MTV culture and contains one of the most iconic guitar riffs. Discussing with students why certain phrases or melodies stick in our minds can lead to insightful conversations about the power of music and its role in shaping our habits and opinions.
Introduce students to the art of songwriting by examining a few songs by Dire Straits. Analyze their lyrics from a poetic standpoint, focusing on themes, metaphors, and rhetorical devices. Explore how these elements are made more compelling through rhythm and tonality.
With members hailing from diverse ethnic backgrounds, Dire Straits’ music was influenced by a blend of styles such as jazz, folk, and rock. Teaching students about the multicultural influences that shaped their sound will offer an engaging lesson on the importance of embracing diversity in the creative process.