This is an outline of a five-day project in a juvenile correction facility or an alternative education class with 10 students and teacher assistance to maintain order in the class. This project could also work with a regular public school music class of 25 to 30 students.
1. Goal: Present the blues as a catharsis of emotion, a lament, and a therapeutic way of expressing emotion.
Education: Show slides of Blues players Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters and discuss the hard life of share cropping in the south and migration to the cities of the North. Blues grew out of this history.
Performance: Blues of Robert Johnson, Son House, Skip James, Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters that tell about hard times.
Application: Ask students to write down a story of hard times and what allowed them to survive. This story is their blues.
2. Goal: Help students to find helpful ways to express their emotions and experience through rhythm.
Education: Make comparisons and contrasts between blues and African rhythm; with blues and rap.
Performance: Give students instruments to play with the blues. Djimbe drum, talking drum and other various drums from Africa. Play some drum music with guitar by Ali Farke Toure.
Application: Help participants to identify their feelings with an emotions chart. Ask them to drum these feelings.
3. Goal: Help students to deal with their feelings and experience by writing several verses of a blues song that tells their story. Students may talk the words or sing them.
Education: Help students to understand the connection between blues and rock and roll and blues and rap music. People are writing new blues songs and evolving the genre. Show excerpts from the series, “The Blues” about the relationship between the blues and rock and roll and rap. I relate the blues to hip-hop songs with a positive message such as raps by Flame, Trip Lee, Sean McGee “My Story,” and Kirk Franklin.
Performance: Artist performs a blues songs he has written. Performance of a talking blues-rap.
Application: Groups of students work together to write a blues or a rap and put a tune to it. Those who are not able or willing to write can rehearse a song with drums and rhythm instruments to be recorded the next day.
4. Goal: students practice their song or poem, which they can read or sing to prepare for recording session.
Education: Artist coaches participants on ways to perform their song or lyric.
Artist talks about the technical aspect of recording.
Performance: Students practice their songs on their own.
Application: Students who are ready begin to record their song. The artist takes a shots of the group and the recording session with a digital camera to use for the CD cover of a recording.
5. Goal: Students record their song or rhythm performance for the production of a CD.
Education: Students learn the technical process of recording. The last day is a recording and post-production session.
Performance: Students perform their songs and record them. The rhythm ensemble performs and records.
Application: Students choose the order of songs for the CD. Artwork and picture for CD Label and cover. Some students with good attention span participate in mixing their songs. Students help in the post-production, editing, and mixing of a music CD for the class to keep. The class listens to the final product of the CD and reflects on the music they made, and the experience of recording and hearing themselves.