Following the Blues Form to Make Jazz More Accessible

Following the Blues form to make jazz more accessible

David Kaminski
[email protected]
Georgetown Middle High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Multimedia/Digital Media


High School


General Music


: Computer with a CD ROM, Television (w/connection to computer monitor), stereo (or computer speakers)


25 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students will already know the basic 12-bar blues form.

NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME standard of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
NAfME standard of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 


TimeSketch Series: Miles Davis, Music Analyzed! (Electronic Courseware Systems, Inc.), photocopied print out or drawing of the form of Freddie the Freeloader as represented in the software.


Students will follow the form of the 12-bar blues progression and will understand how improvisation works within the framework of that form. Students will also understand how following the form makes a longer piece of music (in this case almost 10 minutes) understandable and enjoyable.


Running the Timesketch on the computer and through the TV/stereo, choose Freddie the Freeloader and show students how the form is represented graphically.
Begin by having the students read the narrative about the song. Review terms head and chorus.
Play the track and show the students how the arrow helps them follow the form. Students should read the commentary which changes as the song plays (some of it helps follow the chord progression, some explains stylistic matters).


Play the song again without the video and have the students show where the chord changes are by raising their hand (they can take this a step further by using fingers to show which chord is playing).
Also stop the recording in random places and have the students indicate on the photocopies of the form where each stop was.

Follow Up:

Similar evaluation activities can be done with other blues (Blue Monk, Nows the Time, Rock Around The Clock, etc.). After transferring the skill to other blues, students can move on to larger forms (32-bar song form)

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