Black History Month Songs & Curriculum

Lift Every Voice for Black History Month curriculum resources.

On This Page

  • *Song Info Lift Ev’ry Voice, Sister Rosa, Bessie Jones documentary, What Can One Little Person Do?
  • *Musician & Song Database Google Sheets database
  • *Resources African Drumming/Dance, Music History Is Black History, Culture Bearer-Namibia, Black Stringband music, History of We Shall Overcome, African American Women and Rock and Roll, Paying Royalties, American History through the lens of Black American music (Diaspora)
  • *Bulletin Boards

Song Info

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing (Black National Anthem)

Kings Return

Sister Rosa by The Neville Brothers

Documentary About Bessie Jones

What Can One Little Person Do? by Sally Rogers

A composed song about important black leaders and the power of one.

Musician & Song Database

I’ve tried to use songs written by Black artists that are accessible to children. There is a multitude of current songs (or within the past 10 years) that could be used as well that I haven’t added to the list. Also, there are SO MANY amazing Black performers who weren’t composers that you can highlight as well.

Resources

African Drumming & Dance

In this series, dancer Rujeko Dumbutshena and drummer Farai Malianga show you how to dance traditional African dances and drums and their place in African history. This is a YT playlist from the Kennedy Center.

Music History, Is Black History

This resource page by Reverb has lots of information about Black musicians who were innovators and had groundbreaking achievements.

Teaching Idea: Let students choose a musician to research, putting all the research together into a timeline of Black music history.

The final student product could be online or hard-copy.
ONLINE-a Google slide, Flipgrid video presentation
HARD-COPY-poster board, report on 8.5 x 11, info on record-shaped album

Namibia Culture-Bearer, Garth Prince

Prince is a musician, vocalist, drummer, and educator who has knowledge of traditional folk songs of Namibia.

Black Stringband Music

This resource, by musician Jake Blount, has some essential and relevant information about Stringband music but other information about Black music and musicians. Mr. Blount has such thoroughly researched information.

A History of We Shall Overcome

A fascinating and thorough search of the evolution of this famous song. After watching, I definitely subscribed to Genie Deez’s channel because he is amazing!

His YT playlist on Culture & History includes great information on Funk, Civil Rights, syncopation, and so much more.

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll.

In Black Diamond Queens, Maureen Mahon draws on recordings, press coverage, archival materials, and interviews to document the history of African American women in rock and roll between the 1950s and the 1980s.”

AMAZING video. I highly recommend watching for teachers and upper middle school/high school students.

Paying Royalties

The United Parish in Brookline introduced a unique program to help carry on the legacy of this music in Roxbury, and they’re hoping to be a model for others.

“There was growing discomfort around how to use Negro spirituals, appropriately and respectfully,” said the congregation’s minister of music Susan DeSelms.

Black Music of the African Diaspora

This blog post is from two educators who created a new seminar that looks at American history through Black American music. The greatest thing is that they have shared their playlist on Spotify!

Bulletin Boards

In the News

Special Days Celebrated With Music


April 30 International JAZZ Day

April 22 Earth Day

April 11 National Barbershop Quartet Day

April 3 National Film Score Day

Music of John Williams

Sneak Peak at Next Week’s Special Day

April 11 National Barbershop Quartet Day

March 29 World Piano Day

March 21 World Poetry Day

March 17 St. Patrick’s Day

March 10 International Bagpipe Day

March 4-Marching Music Day

Blue Devils Drum Corps

Southern University Marching Band

US Marine Corps Band

The History of Military Marches

February 26-National Tell a Fairy Tale Day

February 15-National Gumdrop Day

February 7-World Ballet Day

Misty Copeland

Coming Soon!

January 28-National Kazoo Day

January 24-National Peanut Butter Day

January 17-Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Follow the above link for LOTS of MLK resources!

International Choreographer’s Day-January 9

International Choreographer’s Day

Mambo from West Side Story

Thriller by Michael Jackson (shortened)

Evolution of Dance has lots of great dances and might be appropriate for some classes. Please review it before showing.

Women Rock! Day-January 3

Aretha Franklin
Joan Jett

My ❤️ FAVORITE rocker-H.E.R.

December 6—Walt Disney Day

Walt Disney Day-December 6

The first Monday of December (12/06/2021)

Walt Disney was born in Chicago in 1901 and began as an illustrator. One of the first characters he helped create was Mortimer Mouse who later was renamed Mickey Mouse. He is known for the animated features The Three Little Pigs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo, and Mary Poppins. Disney was a pioneer in animation and introduced several developments in the production of cartoons.

Minnie & Mickey

Disney’s 2021 Release Movie-Encanto


National Violin Day-December 13

The violin, also known as a fiddle, is a wooden chordophone in the string family. It is the highest-pitched instrument in the family, has four strings, and is played by plucking or bowing.

Pictured is a violin from 1658.

Early stringed instruments came from the Greeks, Central Asia, and the Middle East and influenced the violin that we know today which emerged in the 1500s in Northern Italy.

The Kanneh-Mason Family

Braimah Kanneh-Mason on violin

Ultimate Ukulele Chords That Take You Beyond the Basics

  • How to Play G video
  • Songs: Columbia, Mi Encanto (C, F, G) Earth Day Is Ev’ry Day (C, F, Am, G) Walking On Sunshine (C, F, G), Let It Be (C, F, G, Am), Bring U Down (G, F, Am, Dm), Another Brick In the Wall (C, Dm, F, G) Counting Stars (C, F, G, Am, Dm), If I Didn’t Love You (F, G, Am, C), Someone You Loved (C, G, Am, F, Dm), You Belong With Me (G, D, Am, C) MORE SONGS COMING SOON!
Comparing ukulele chords and learning how to play the G chord.

Columbia, Mi Encanto (C, F, G)

Earth Day Is Ev’ry Day (C, F, Am, G)

Walking On Sunshine (C, F, G)

Let It Be (C, F, G, Am)

This is a beautiful video with added melody.

Riff for Bring U Down Playalong (below)

Another Brick In the Wall (C, Dm, F, G)

Bring U Down (G, F, Am, Dm)

Counting Stars (Am, C, G, F, Dm)

If I Didn’t Love You (F, G, Am, C)

Someone You Loved (C, G, Am, F, Dm)

D Chord

You Belong With Me (G, D, Am, C)

Spotlight Classroom Musician of the Week – Thelonious Monk


Thelonious Monk, Jazz Pianist

Movement Activity Below

Thelonious was born in North Carolina and moved to New York City when he was four. He was a good student and athlete and began playing the trumpet and soon after, the piano. Thelonious was considered a musical prodigy and became so accomplished, he performed in churches, theaters, clubs, and playhouses. He was known for a type of jazz music called bebop and broke lots of the musical rules in rhythm, melody, and harmony.

He was part of a group of jazz greats at the time which included Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie. Thelonious loved his family and wrote songs for his children. The songs were “Little Rootie Tootie” and “Boo Boo’s Birthday” and “Green Chimneys.” He was born in 1917 and died in 1982 at the age of 64. (Info from Theloniusmonkmusic.com)

Thelonious wrote a swinging piece called, “Stuffy Turkey.”

Stuffy Turkey Movement Activity

Stuffy Turkey by Thelonious Monk

Advanced Movement Options

America the Beautiful

One of the top ten songs EVERY child should learn to sing.


Included on this page-

Lyrics-Ukulele music-Performance options-TpT Link to an America the beautiful presentation-Free coloring page download, Great video examples of the song

Besides singing in the classroom or at a school community meeting, when have YOU had your students perform America the Beautiful?

(Leave your answers in the comments. Here are mine.)
  • Veterans Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Sporting Events
  • Peace Walks
  • Spring & Winter Programs
  • Earth Day
  • Women’s History Month
  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July

For ukulele (C, C7, D7, F, and G)

TpT is having trouble uploading video previews right now, so I’ll post the video here so you can see what’s in my product! ☺️

Teachers Pay Teacher Presentation in both Powerpoint and Google slide formats

Coloring Sheet Free Download

Patriotic tribute by two sisters

Virtual Orchestra and Choir Collaboration

Ray Charles

The Monster Mash

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay 

Included on this page:

  • Song Analysis
  • A Stick Routine
  • Ukulele Resource
  • Xylophone bass line part

Stick Routine

Instead of using letters to designate the form, I used verse, chorus, and bridge!

Ukulele

You can play along with just four chords: G, Em, C, and D!


Monster Mash Xylophone audio example ↙️

It’s About Time

“What animal keeps the best time?

A WATCH dog!

Spotlight Artist: Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck was a jazz musician. He was born in California and died in 2012 at age 91. He loved experimenting with different time signatures such as 5/4, 6/4, and 9/8. He recorded Take 5 in 1959 and it became a jazz hit and a classic. Take 5 was written by Paul Desmond.

Take 5

A Mashup of Take Five and Beethoven’s Fur Elise

Fun With Fives

Try a few of these ideas!

Body Percussion
  1. Count to five repeatedly and clap on the numbers FOUR and FIVE. Add the music.
  2. Instead of clapping on the 4 and 5, what else could you do?
    • Get with a partner or small group, come up with a plan, and share with the class!
Movement
  1. Can we move on all five numbers? Let’s try some opposites.
    • Hands up on 1-2-3 and down on 4-5
    • Bend over on 1-2-3 and straighten on 4-5
    • Smile on 1-2-3 and frown on 4-5
    • Right arm up on 1-2-3 (then down) and left arm up on 4-5 (then down)
    • Challenge move: Sway one direction on 1-2-3 and then the opposite on 4-5.
  2. Parachute-whether you have a big parachute, mini parachutes, or scarves, create a move for the 1-2-3 and then another for the 4-5.
    • Parachute-up on 1-2-3 then while up, pull, shake, or beat of hands on 4-5. Repeat for down. So, “Up, two, three, pull, pull. Down, two, three, pull, pull.”
  3. Create movement for the A section and then the B section to perform the entire first section Intro and ABA. (see notes below)
Speech
  1. 3+2=5 Add a 3-syllable animal to a 2-syllable animal-“mockingbird + robin”
    • Play the TWO syllable game. The teacher says “An-i-mal” and each student (or with a partner) in rhythm has to say a two syllable animal. The teacher can point to random students or go in order. If you play it as an out game, students who are out could then be in charge of clapping on 4 and 5 or playing an instrument on 4 and 5.
    • Could you play using “Yum-my fruit” or “Stu-dent names”?
  2. Try the 3 + 2 activity with colors, food, plants, reptiles, etc.
Instruments
  1. Drums
    • Play on beats 4 and 5 trying out different drum techniques. (low, high, brush, knock, fist.
    • Put two together for the 1-2-3 + 4-5. Maybe brush for 1-2-3 and high for 4-5. Let students explore and then share with class.
    • Try playing just on the 1.
    • Try using the form ABA. The A section is the two styles on 1-2-3, 4-5 and the B section is just on the 1. Try it with the recording.
  2. Sticks-exactly the same idea as drums but partners could tap each other’s sticks on the 4 and 5 of the A section or beat 1 of the B section.

Spotlight Artist: Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau was a singer. He was born in Wisconsin and came from a very musical family. He sang jazz, pop, soul, and R & B music and won many Grammy awards. He died in 2017.

Singing-Take 5 Cover with lyrics.
Les Nuages is a band from Romania.

If you are adventurous, here are some lyrics I created to show students some possibilities. Sing along 😀 and try writing some of your own.

Lyric Template-Write a class version!

Teacher Notes

  1. The form (video above): Intro (drum solo then 8 measures of piano intro), ABA, sax improv, drum improv, at 4:20 a return to ABA, coda.
  2. Depending on your school situation, lots of additional opportunities are available if you use a variety of formations: rows and columns, circles
  3. Parachute activity-It’s always best to verbalize movements of this type. I’ve included what you might say.
Kahoot Questions
  1. Who performed the piece Take 5?
  2. What genre of music is Take 5?
  3. What is the time signature for Take 5?
  4. Identify the piano, saxophone, and drums.

C, F, G7, and Am Songs

On this page: C, F, G7, Am songs
  • Stand By Me, Brown-Eyed Girl, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride

Blooket game on identifying the chords C, F, G7, C7, and Am from diagrams and images of fingers. My kids LOVE this game.

(No login needed for students, just click “join a game” and it will take you to the game pin screen. Teachers need to create a free account.)

Stand By Me

Brown-Eyed Girl

Have You Ever Seen the Rain

Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride

Next Ukulele Page for You: Ultimate Ukulele Chords That Take You Beyond the Basics


WITH—–How to Play G video
Songs: Columbia, Mi Encanto (C, F, G), Earth Day (C, F, Am, G), Walking On Sunshine (C, F, G), Let It Be (C, F, G, Am), Bring U Down (G, F, Am, Dm), Another Brick In the Wall (C, Dm, F, G) Counting Stars (C, F, G, Am, Dm), Someone You Loved (C, G, Am, F, Dm), If I Didn’t Love You (F, G, Am, C), You Belong With Me (G, D, Am, C) MORE COMING SOON-THIS PAGE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS.

Ukulele-Getting Started

An easy-to-use sequential ukulele curriculum that uses songs kids love from today’s hits to classics.

How to Play the Ukulele!
Chords on this page: C, C7, Dm, F, Am
  • Single chord play alongs for C7, C, Am, and F—Lime in the Coconut, Ten in a Bed, Just for Me, The Beat Goes On, Make New Friends
  • Two-chord songs: Just for Me (C/Am)— Dream Baby & Deep In the Heart of Texas (F/C7), Iko Iko (F/C)
  • Three-chord songs
    • (C/F/Am)—Best Day of My Life, Thunder, Good to Be alive, Sunflower, Senorita
    • (F/Am/Dm)—Unstoppable

Info on my favorite ukulele brand/model!

Inspiration


C7, C, Am, and F SINGLE-chord songs to start!

Play along to the island breeze!

Island Breezes

Backing Track on C chord

Ten in a Bed-C Chord

Chord Order Idea: teach the F chord next (below) so that all students need to do for Am is lift their index finger.

Am Backing Track


Just for Me


Backing Track on F chord

F chord rocks DOWN to C7.

C7 chord rocks UP to F.

Deep In the Heart of Texas (Coming Back Soon)

F and C

Best Day of My Life

3-chord songs

Thunder-C, F, Am

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Good to Be Alive-C, F, Am

Sunflower-C, F, Am

Senorita-C, F, Am

Unstoppable by The Score

There’s a Dm in here but YOU CAN DO IT! Dm is just F with one more finger!!!

Your next ukulele page: Ukulele-G7
You’ll find a G7 how-to and songs with C/G7
  • C/G7 songs: La Cucaracha, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Hush Little Baby, Iko Iko