Civil War/Slavery and the Blues

Civil War/Slavery and the Blues 

Ron Dumais
[email protected]
Gaudet Middle School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Information Processing


Middle School




Multiple Electronic Keyboards to accommodate student numbers


90 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

This lesson would be taught in collaboration with the Grade 5 Social Studies teacher as part of an integrated unit on the Civil War/Slavery. This integrated component would be presented after the students have studied much about the Civil War and its causes.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
MENC 9: Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture


1) Appropriate audio equiptment to play the recorded blues samples gathered (mp3, record, etc…)
2) Recorded examples of slavery based blues.
3) Notated sample of a blues scale


By listening to a blues recording, student will be able to identify its very genre be recognizing its use of a blues scale

Students will be able to discuss the lyrical content and how it relates historically.

Students will be able to use a basic blues scale to improvise a basic melody over the progression.


1) In conjunction with the Social Studies teacher, review the causes of the Civil War and the part that slavery played.
2) Listen to various blues recordings
3) Discuss the lyrical content
4) Show its melodic origin via a blues scale handout
5) Using Band-In-A-Box created accompaniment, let the students explore and demonstrate an improvised melody based on the blues scale given.


Students will perform their improvised melodies for each other.

A rubric may be used to focus on:

1)Use of appropriate blues notes
2)Rhythmic consistency
3)Appropriate style

Follow Up:

1) Expand the improvisation into Call and Response
2) Discuss and work to have students perform a basic blues progression (Band in the Box)

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