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Unit Plan Outline General Music

Teacher: Mark Donohue

Unit Title: Spirituals and the Blues
Grade: 10
Number of Classes: 4

MA Frameworks: Students will play instruments, alone and with others, to

perform a varied repertoire of music. Students will improvise, compose, and
arrange music. Students will describe and analyze their own music and the music
of others using appropriate music vocabulary. When appropriate, students will
connect their analysis to interpretation and evaluation.

National Standards: Creating, Responding, Connecting

This unit will explore how the blues came to be such a popular style and evolve
into popular western music based on the background and history of how it came
to be.

Essential Questions:
What are Spirituals? Where did spirituals come from? Why did African American
slaves sing them? How did they evolve into the blues and become popular?
What is the meaning behind this style of music? How has it impacted music

Enduring Understanding:
African American culture intensely impacted the music of America and of the
world. Based from struggle and oppression the entire style has become famous
and immortalized because of the heritage it derives from.

Behavioral Objectives:
The oppressed African American slaves were the ones who created the blues
through the original use of African spirituals involving themes of both struggle,
freedom, and code.

Informal-class participation in listenings and discussion
Formal- written analysis of both lyric interpretation and form (round, ABA,
1-4-5 12 bar Blues
Long Range Assignment/Project/Product- Final 1-4-5 12 bar blues garage
band project

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students should know basic song construction (ABA/ROUND), the history
surrounding slavery and its abolishment, and how to use garage band via loops
and MIDI controllers.

1. Special needs students may use ear buds to listen to the music if hard
or sensitive to hearing.
2. ELL- students will be able to further see the power points used during
lessons with links to songs attached on my website if they need to refer
back to the lesson or ask specific questions on a slide or topic.

School to Home/community connection:

The knowledge of how America’s music evolved began with the oppression of
African American slave. The blues was a spark that created a chain reaction of
musical inspirations. It is important to acknowledge and understand that the
blues came from African spirituals and just how it influenced the music of modern
day, as well as how it changed the time period it was created in. Whether it was
used as a coping mechanism, a way to pass the time, celebration, or in
assistance to find freedom. The blues and African spirituals helped define
modern day American music.
Students will review the history of slavery and how it came to be, the conditions
that the African Americans were forced into, as well as be exposed to early
examples of African spirituals and modern day Blues music.

Hoe Emma Hoe- Call and response song, sung during work
Skip James - Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues
Gary Clark Jr. - Don't Owe You A Thang
Stevie Ray Vahn – Look at Little Sister
Follow the Drinking Gourd

(all songs are available on youtube and transcriptions of the lyrics will be present
in powerpoints as well as handed out on paper for analysis)

Materials Needed:
Smartboard/projector, whiteboard, markers, Power point presentations, speaker
system or Bluetooth speaker for listenings, printed out lyrics to all works being
used, notebook, pencil, 1:1 computers with garage band app installed, small
MIDI keyboards with (drum pads optional).

Lesson Outlines

Lesson 1
Behavioral Objective: Understand the history of spirituals and slavery and
the conditions slaves underwent.
Assessment/Evaluation – Discussion based teacher observation
Prior Knowledge and activator – knowledge of slavery and abolishment as
well as the underground railroad.
Lesson content
- Power point briefly explaining the history of slavery and oppression of
African Americans of the time. As well as the work, they did.
- Listening to “Hoe Emma Hoe” and the field holler style of song
- Analysis of lyrics and discussion as to why slaves sang when they worked
and the meaning in the lyrics.

Lesson 2
Behavioral Objective: Understand the evolution of spirituals and field
hollars to songs in used in Code to help reach freedom.
Assessment/Evaluation-Analysis of follow the drinking gourd to uncover
the messege and directions in the song
Prior Knowledge and activator- Knowledge of the underground rail road
and Harriet Tubman
Lesson content
- Power point on the underground railroad showing the important stops,
figures, route, and dangers.
- Listening and analysis of follow the drinking gourd (lyrics given and music
- Written analysis of the meaning of the song and trying to determine the
route on a printed-out map.

Lesson 3
Behavioral Objective: Observe how the music began to take form from
spirituals into the blues and the 12-bar pattern.
Assessment/Evaluation- N/A
Prior Knowledge and activator – Play newer blues music including Gary
Clark Jr. and Stevie Ray Vahn.
Lesson content
-Introduce the 12 bar 1-4-5 pattern most commonly found in blues music
-Explain on whiteboard in the Key of C the 12 bar 1-4-5 pattern.
-Play the two selected tunes and review the 1-4-5 progression.
-Introduce the final unit project, creating a 12-bar progression in garage
band using loops and/or MIDI drums and a MIDI keyboard
-Hand out Rubric for Project
-Begin Project

Lesson 4
Behavioral Objective: Create a 12-bar blues song and understand the
Assessment/Evaluation – the student’s song shared aloud or to me
Prior Knowledge and activator –How to use garage band and a MIDI
Lesson content
- Dedicated half the lesson time to the students creating and finishing their
12-bar songs
- Spend the last half of class reviewing their creations and offering
compliments and sharing their songs.