12 Bar Blues


Todd Beaney
[email protected]
Rye HS/MS, Rye, New York

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Multimedia/Digital Media


Middle School


General Music


Computers equipped with digital audio software, such as Pro Tools, Sonar, etc., and example file loaded on each station.


40-50 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Beginning knowledge of basic audio editing skills (which this lesson is intended to reinforce): selecting, moving, separating audio clips; using transport controls; solo and mute.

NAfME Standards of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standards of 1994: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME Standards of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.

NAfME 2014: Responding 


Prepared software file of a 12-bar-blues. On a separate track is a jazz solo that uses five or six easily distinguishable phrases. On a third track is the same solo, cut into distinct clips or regions, each of which represents a phrase of the solo. These clips or regions have been reordered so that the third track is different from the second.


Students will use their listening skills and audio software editing skills to recreate the original jazz solo from the scrambled track. They will need to listen, phrase by phrase, to the original solo, then look for the corresponding phrase on the scrambled track, then drag the regions into the proper order. Finally, they will need to fine-tune their placement so that each phrase “swings”! Second part of the assignment: on a separate track, students can reorder the regions to create their own solos.


a. Have students listen to example file (first two tracks). b. Explain the “challenge” (assignment)/pass out written instructions. c. If needed, demonstrate the process for the class by searching for the first phrase. (Soloing the scrambled track may help.)


1. Regions or clips are in the right order. 2. Regions or clips line up rhythmically with the rhythm section track. 3. (Part 2) New solo meets criteria 1 & 2 and is different both from the original and from the scrambled track.

Follow Up:

Students work out their own blues licks, then use them to record their own (new) solos.

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