Sample Lesson

Lesson: Writing Blues Lyrics

Description of Lesson/Activity:
Students will learn the form for writing blues lyrics. Appropriate topics and content for blues writing will be discussed. Students will have the opportunity to write their own blues lyrics.

Learning Expectations:
C1.3 – create musical compositions in a variety of forms for specific purposes and audiences.
Students will learn the form for writing blues lyrics, appropriate choices for subject matter, and style.

Modifications: For students working at a lower language level I will have them seated beside a student that can be a helper when the class is given time to discuss various concepts present in the lesson. Use of computer and an online rhyming dictionary to help form rhymes will be given. Students may also wish to sing/perform their original lyrics instead of writing them down as an option.

Learning Materials/Resources: What will you need to prepare in advance?

-Print copies of the Blues Lyric Expectations and Examples
-Guitar
-CD with audio examples
-Overhead, or Smart Board with lyrics of audio examples displayed.

DELIVERING THE LESSON
Mental Set: Prior Knowledge and Enabling Skills:
Students now have a good sense of what the blues sound like, they have listened to a variety of blues pieces. Students have also begun learning about the historical context in which the blues came out of.

Equity, Diversity, Social Justice and Ecological Sustainability Purpose/Objectives:
We will continue to delve into topics such as racism and prejudice, discussing the hardships African Americans went through in the Deep South following the abolition of slavery.

BODY: Input, Modeling, Check for Understanding, Guided Practice, Independent Practice

Listen to 3 or 4 examples of classic blues songs that fall in line with standard blues lyric criteria. Display lyrics on the overhead. Ask students to look for any similarities (focusing on words only) in the various songs played.

1. Hound Dog – Big Mama Thornton
2. I Don’t Need No Doctor – John Mayer
3. Crossroads – Robert Johnson
4. Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughn

Learn elements of a blues lyric. Before any “rules” are discussed, ask students to see if they can guess what any of the “rules” might be based on the similarities of the example songs.
– “Voice” is in first person
– Follows AAB form
– The 2nd and 3rd lines rhyme
– Focused on real-life or everyday issues
– Subject should be about relationships, travel, discrimination, vices, fortune, or tragedy

Canadian Idol: Blues Lyrics Edition
– Play Live Examples (live singing and guitar) of both good and bad blues lyrics. Students will have these examples on their handout. After each example, students must answer whether they believe that lyric to be a good blues lyric or not. Their findings should be based on the checklist provided for great blues lyrics.

Group Writing
– As a class, we will complete the following blues lyric together:

A – That man, he’s gonna work me till I’m dead
A –
B –

Individual Writing
– Each Student will write 2 verses of the blues (AAB, AAB)

Celebrate the Learning
– Students may perform their song for the class, or have their song performed by another student or myself.

STUDENT HANDOUT

Checklist for Great Blues Lyrics
– “Voice” is in first person
– Follows AAB form
– Focused on real-life or everyday issues
– Subject is about relationships, travel, discrimination, vices, fortune, and tragedy
– First 2 lines repeat
– The 2nd and 3rd lines rhyme
– Be sure to write enough lyric to fill 4 bars of music for each section (A-4, A-4, B-4)
– Each lyric section added, should go further into the story, it should tell us more about the song

CANADIAN IDOL BLUE LYRICS EDITION

1. A I can’t stand the sunlight, cause I feel gloomy inside
A I can’t stand the sunlight, cause I feel gloomy inside
B Ever since my honey left me I feel ok

Is example # 1 a good blues lyric? Why or Why Not?

2. A My cat is so tech savvy, she just made a facebook profile
A My cat is so tech savvy, she just made a facebook profile
B I guess I’ll add her as my friend, though I haven’t signed on in a while

Is example # 2 a good blues lyric? Why or Why not?

3. A I’ve been travelin’ along this dusty road, for way too long
A I’ve been travelin’ along this dusty, dirty road for way too long
B It’s been a year since I’ve seen my baby, this is my travelin’ blues song

Is example # 3 a good blues lyric? Why or Why Not?

4. A Brian went down to the old train station, to get on the Chicago train
A Brian went down to the old train station, to get on the Chicago train
B When he gets to the big city, things just wont be the same.

Is example # 4 a good blues lyric? Why or Why not?

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