Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Black History Month

Black History Month.
Those three words have power, value, and emotion. Though the story of Black History Month began in 1915, it was not officially recognized until 1976 when President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling upon Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”  Want to read more? Check this out.

.Black History Month is a special "pause" in our year to reflect and celebrate the vast musical contributions of Black and/or African Americans, but it should not be the only time our students see themselves represented and reflected in the music we use in our classrooms.
Image result for image quotes black history month"

Things to Consider

  • Where is my focus?  Who and what am I celebrating and honoring? Personally, I do not want to be the white teacher telling a single narrative about Black and/or African Americans as slaves and that they are only worthy of celebrating when talking about slavery or the Civil Rights Movement.  How does this impact our students view of musicians and composers who are Black and/or African American? 
  • Sing, listen, and teach about music from a broad perspective; spirituals and Civil Rights songs are valuable, but they are not the only music to be celebrated and learned.
  • If we teach these songs we should keep our community and parents informed of our intention to teach about slavery.  I have known many music teachers who begin to go down this path and receive emails and phone calls from upset parents who have not discussed slavery with their child and now they are forced into a conversation they were unprepared to have.
  • For me, I want my students to celebrate, honor and learn about Duke Ellington, BB King, Billie Holiday, Scott Joplin, Ella Fitzgerald, Leontyne Price, and Miles Davis. I also want them to celebrate, honor, and learn about Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Queen Latifah, Tina Turner, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Denyce Graves, Black Violin, Rihanna, The String Queens, will.i.am, Ne-Yo, Rhiannon Giddens, and Ranky Tanky, (who just won a Grammy and are amazing - listen to this podcast and you'll see why I love them for elementary aged students).
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe - do you know her name? I didn't until this past year. Learning about her was eye-opening and a bit shocking- how did I NOT know her name until now? She was a pioneer and laid the foundations for Rock 'n Roll. Read more about her here from NPR.

Here are some of the things my students and I will be using throughout the year, not only during the month of February.

Children's Literature

Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles - Think of That 
Change repetitive words to "Rap, Tap, Tap, Think of That". (3 quarter notes, 1 quarter rest, repeat same rhythm).
I use this with Kindergarten students after we first do some movement preparation to "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder.  
1. Read Book, encourage students to speak repetitive words, "Rap, tap, tap, think of that".

Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles - Think of That! (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books)
3.  Videos - Tap Dancing Group - I like this one - you will only watch until 1:20.

Next I show Savion Glover - this is such a cool commercial- just skip the end (commercial for a fridge). 

How to Tap- this is really good for my younger kiddos - very slow, sequential. We only watch to about 3:00 and we stand up and practice tapping.
4. Then I break out the Heart Chart and we go back to the book of Bojangles - the Heart Chart is amazing and many music teachers have them or something like them - it is the perfect way to  introduce quarter and eighth notes. Once we have explored, ""Rap, tap, tap, think of that" and learned how to clap it, etc. and have discovered quarter notes, we tap it on rhythm sticks.  That leads into eighth notes, and before we know it we are reading stick rhythms with quarter and eighth notes.

Ruby Sings the Blues 
I love the animated video here with jazz music in the background. It is really well done! 

Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty

Great lesson to go with this from my friend Charissa! Check it out here. 
Violet's Music 
Another great animated video by PBS!
Violet's Music

There are so many other books I use!  Here are several:


Songs to Celebrate and Sing 

Sources - 
Let's Slice the Ice - A Collection of Black Children's Ring Games and Chants by Eleanor Fulton and Pat Smith, available from West Music. 
Step it Down: Games, Songs, Plays, and Stories from the Afro-American Heritage by Bessie Jones and Bess Lomax Hawes, available here from Amazon.

(not a complete list)
Head and Shoulders, Baby
Ranky Tank
Just from the Kitchen
I Got a Letter this Morning
Green Sally Up
Go In and Out the Window
Draw Me a Bucket of Water
Shoo Turkey
Little Sally Walker
Miss Mary Mack

Other Resources

Hope this was informative! More to come next week! 


  1. Thank you so much. So helpful and full of great lessons.

  2. piano tutor near me

    About The Best Piano Teachers - Find the best online piano tutor near me and learn to play the piano for beginners. We are the best piano teachers. We teach to play the piano for beginners.

    to get more - https://thebestpianoteachers.com/about-us


    Greetings to everyone,i want to use this medium to thank the great spell caster called Dr Padman who helped to restored my relationship back to me,it happened that my ex lover decided to break up with me without any reason,saying that he don't love me anymore,this started to happen when my ex lover started keeping late night,and coming home late,i pleaded to him for several months but he refused to listen to my apology,so one faithful day i was browsing through the internet and i suddenly came across several testimonies of how Dr Padman helped so many people in bringing back their ex lover,so without wasting much time i contacted his https://padmanspell.com he told me that i shouldn't worry anymore that he must return back to me after he has cast a love spell for me that he will surely run back to me,i didn't doubt his words i obeyed his instruction and indeed after 24 hours my ex lover rush back to me and everything went back as it was in the beginning contact him today on his padmanlovespell@yahoo.com , https://twitter.com/padman_dr. https://padmanspell.com WhatsApp +19492293867