Lesson 803: Baroque Pipe Organs of Oaxaca

Host David Yetman explores the history of Oaxaca and the efforts to preserve the religious meaning of the organ pipe in Oaxaca and surrounding towns. He visits a nearby market with his friend, historian Bill Beezley, and takes in the kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells of the market.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the importance of pipe organs and cathedrals and churches in Oaxaca, Mexico and its surrounding towns.

Social Studies Standards

Individuals, Groups & Institutions:

B, C, G

Discussion Prompts

  • The video states that restoring organs is an attempt to “reclaim history that has been passed over.” What do you think this means? Why is this important to the people of Oaxaca and this community? 
  • What is the connection between Catholicism, cathedrals and the historical goal of religious conversion? How has this influenced the architecture of this area?
  • Would you like to learn how to play the pipe organ? Why or why not? What would the challenges be of playing a restored pipe organ?
  • Why do you think music is so important to this region and what does it represent to its people? What does music represent to the people in your region? If David Yetman were to come to your town or region, what musical instrument would he focus on?

Lesson Activities

  • Research the pipe organ and create an illustrated diagram with labeled parts of the organ. Explain how the pipe organ makes its sound and how it can change sounds. 
  • Create a trifold of the Tlacolula market that shows the richness of the people, food and goods. Add details and colors that you might see in the market that make it unique to Tlacolula.
  • Research Baroque renaissance music and prepare a speech to convince contemporary students why this time period is important and should be revived.
  • You are the restoration director in Mexico who decides which pipe organs are selected for restoration. List the five criteria stated in the video and rate in the order of importance that you think matters most to the Oaxaca community. Add one new criteria to the list. Explain your selection and reasoning in a public announcement.


  • amplify
  • apparatus
  • baroque
  • bishop
  • conversion
  • heathen
  • notable
  • repertoire
  • venue
  • vibrato


In the Americas Season 8 Lesson Episode 3