THE BLUES...learn about it, write it, PLAY IT & SING IT!

Lesson Overview

Learn the history leading to the creation of the century-old song form called "the blues."  This was a song form created and utilized by black Americans during the late 1800's. 

HOW DID THIS SONG FORM DEVELOP?  During the times of slavery, when long hours of work in the hot fields went unpaid and unrewarded, these captive workers helped pass the hours singing in the fields; songs called field hollars, call and response chants, and spirituals were spontaneously composed and sung on the spot.  Many of these songs were especially memorable, and became "standards", as they were passed along from plantation to plantation. 
The Blues song form evolved decades after slavery and was mostly written and sung as laments about a laborious life, an untrue lover, or a terrible turn of events. During this time period, black Americans were still being persecuted by unfair JIM CROW LAWS and other injustices, so the Blues helped express this continued life of sorrow, despair, or outrage. 
This song form continues to be immensely popular!  Blues songs continued to be written, sung,  and recorded by musicians of ALL races, all over the world.  It still utilizes several basic, simple structures.

In this lesson, students will compose their own blues song,  by writing about present-day stressors and disappointments that ALL people have, no matter what age we are! The stressors seem to change the description as a person ages, but singing & playing music often seems to help.   

2-3 hours
Lesson Type
Traditional Lesson

Essential Question

Many times, song forms are very unique, depending on the TIME PERIOD  and  DEVELOPMENTS IN A CULTURE  in which they developed.  Learning about the BLUES helps equip students to write a simple but meaningful song, utilize a specific song form pattern, experient with creating writing...plus learn SOCIAL STUDIES FACTS  about an important time period and culture in American history.



Other Instructional Materials or Notes:


piano/keyboard, guitar or ukelele [whatever the teacher is comfortable with, in terms of  " I IV, V" chords 
[play each of  these  chords as "7th" chords, when playing THE BLUES...see RESOURCES]
harmonica, if possible
blues worksheet copies [1 per student, or 2 students may want to compose/write together & share a sheet]
pencils for each student
clipboards, so they can write sitting where they are comfortable

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