A few weeks ago one of the teachers I have been working with this year wanted to work through a series of lessons with the students on The Blues. Of course given that blues and jazz are my favorite styles of music to both listen to and play, I was more than willing to help out with this topic.
We started out by simply asking the students what is The Blues? Not surprisingly, we discovered the students didn’t know a lot about this genre. During our discussion, we eventually got to a point where we showed the students that what is currently termed “pop” and “rock” music generated from The Blues. It turns out the students didn’t really know what “pop” meant, and they seemed really unsure whether to believe us or not when we told them that R & B stood for Rhythm & BLUES! It was really quite fascinating to me. Throughout that first lesson, I felt like the students had a preconceived assumption that The Blues was simply old music for old people relevant only to a time long ago and far away.
I love teaching students about The Blues and Jazz but not entirely because of the music itself. I love this topic for students because of the incredibly important social issues that have accompanied and influenced its’ development over time in North America. In fact it is because of the historic social issues that existed in early blues and jazz periods that I think the topic of blues and jazz is highly relevant to our students today. Racial oppression in the southern states during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s didn’t simply disappear with the abolitionist movement and the civil war; it still exists in a variety of forms today. It exists for many people of non-caucasion races in Canada, in Saskatchewan, and in our local communities. The connections and parallels that can be drawn between our past and our present are prime for students to learn about music in a relevant and meaningful way that can be cross-curricular in nature at the same time.
Now, having had a few progressive lessons about the blues, I really believe that the students in this class are not just simply seeing The Blues as just an old style of music. I think the students are starting to see the The Blues for what it really is; a musical response to the social issues, challenges, and hardships that exist in any given moment in time, even today. The key to teaching about a genre that is typically associated with history is to not simply teach it as a historic thing. Blues has deep roots in the past, but it not only still exists today in traditional form, but it has morphed into other new forms of modern music and its social impact, influence, and rationale for existence is as relevant today as it was in the 1800’s.
Here are a couple of websites that contain useful information and resources if you would like to build your own Blues lesson plan.
Also, if you are ever wanting to attempt a topic like this but would feel more comfortable team-teaching on something not familiar to you, please just ask. I would be happy to come to your school and assist you in this way.
If you have students interested in drumming, please share the following advertisement for them for a camp that is happening in the summer at Cedar Lodge on Blackstrap Lake.
Resonate T-shirts – We still have a few left over t-shirts from Resonate. T-shirts are $15 each are aside from looking great, your purchase of a t-shirt helps to support the event. Attached is a photo of the two colors (black & denim) that are available. If you would like a t-shirt, please send me an e-mail and I will arrange to get one to you.
Kendra’s Road Trip Schedule:
Monday – DO all day
Tuesday – BL AM, DO PM
Wednesday – Colonsay AM, DO PM
Thursday – BL AM, open PM
Friday – Open
Monday, April 27th –
Tuesday, April 28th –
Wednesday, April 29th – Colonsay AM,
Thursday, April 30th – BL AM,
Friday, May 1st –