Learning the Blues

This lesson introduces students to the blues, one of the most distinctive and influential elements of African-American musical tradition. Students take a virtual field trip to Memphis, Tennessee, one of the prominent centers of blues activities, and explore the history of the blues in the work of W. C. Handy and a variety of country blues singers whose music preserves the folk origins of this unique American art form.

Guiding Questions

What are the blues and how does this form of musical expression reflect the African-American experience?

Learning Objectives

To become familiar with the characteristic form and sound of the blues.

To learn about the history and evolution of the blues in relationship to the African-American experience.

To examine the structure and language of blues lyrics.

To compose blues lyrics that reflect present-day attitudes and concerns.