Planning for Black History Month: This Little Light of Mine

by Abby @ Quaver on February 4, 2016

in At Quaver HQ

Is your school preparing to put a special focus on African-American history this February?

The music classroom is a wonderful place to celebrate diverse cultures and races throughout the school year! Many teachers use February’s focus on Black History Month as a launching point for discussion about the musical accomplishments of African-Americans.

Let’s take a look at how you can use Quaver’s resources around “This Little Light of Mine” to explore both the history and musical accomplishments of African-Americans and also the message of harmony central to the song.

How to Find “This Little Light of Mine” in ClassPlay:

  1. Log in to QuaverMusic.com
  2. Click the Teacher Tab to navigate to the Teaching Resources
  3. Click the ClassPlay icon, located on the Teacher Dashboard
  4. Use the ClassPlay search bar to find “This Little Light of Mine”
  5. Use each activity on the SONG HUB to help you unpack this song with your students

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Introducing Black History Month and Famous African-American Musicians with “This Little Light of Mine:”

 1) Print the Black History Month Worksheet

In preparation for the lesson, go to the PRINTABLES tab in the Song Hub to download the Black History Month worksheet.

2) Complete the Black History Month Worksheet

Using the Song Hub’s HISTORY tab, introduce students to famous African-American musicians like Scott Joplin (Pianist), Marian Anderson (Singer), and Louis Armstrong (Trumpeter).

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Guide students to find the answers to their Black History Month worksheet by following along with the screens and using the word bank located at the bottom of the sheet. Paginate through the four screens and click on the images for facts and quotes.

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You can even listen to a sample of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” by clicking the audio button by his image. Additional facts on these musicians can be found in the NOTES section, located in the upper right-hand corner.

3) Teach the Song

Click HUB to return to the Song Hub, and select the LYRICS tab to teach your students the song line by line and section by section.

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4) Listen to the Melody and Descant

Return to the HUB to listen to the melody and descant of “This Little Light of Mine” in the FULL SCORE activity. Remember that you can easily hide parts or adjust the highlighting in all of Quaver’s Full Score activities.

You might divide the class and have students sing both parts or sing the descant for your students and ask them to sing the melody. Using the MIXER in the bottom left-hand corner, you can mute either part for additional learning support.

The Bigger Picture:

  • After enjoying learning and singing the song, point out that the descant and the melody are in harmony with each other even though they are different. This message of harmony was one Dr. Martin Luther King Jr sought to communicate throughout his great life.
  • Discuss the lyrics page and how the candle is passed around the world to different races and nations.
  • Discuss with students what they think the song means and ways that they can “let their light shine.”

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Looking for other resources to highlight African-American history this month and all year?

Check out these lesson ideas available to teachers at QuaverMusic.com:

For All Grades

  • Use the ClassPlay song “The Entertainer” to introduce Scott Joplin and Ragtime music. Click FORM WORKOUT in the Hub to show the structure of the piece by dragging form letter boxes into the empty spaces.

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For Younger Students

  • Watch the Quaver video episode on “The Blues” featuring W.C. Handy, B.B. King, Etta James, and many more!
  • Discuss Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and how he wanted everyone to be treated equally. Connect this message with “Make New Friends,” and “The More We Get Together,” in ClassPlay.

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For Older Students

  • As a whole group or on individual computers, have students explore the history of the Blues in the Metro. Students can read about famous African-American Musicians in the Blues Advanced book. As a review, challenge the students to answer the questions after they read the book.

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  • Use our Write a Blues Song activity to challenge students to do just that! Students fill in the missing lyrics to the song for guaranteed composition success.  A backing track helps set the beat, while each block represents one beat. Discuss with students how the lyrics need to fit with the beat of a song and convey a message worthy of the Blues.

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We hope you’ll give these resources a try with your students as you use to shine a spotlight on diverse cultures this February and all year long.

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