African American Spirituals & Songs


Lesson ideas

Spirituals are so great! They are often upbeat and their repetitive lyrics and (usually) pentatonic melodies make them easy to learn and useful as teaching tools for lots of things:

  • Recorders (there are lots of B-A-G patterns).
  • Melody lessons with pentatonic scale
  • Many of them lend themselves to using a bordun on xylophones (see Orff)
  • Steady beat – it’s easy to find the strong beats in most of these songs – so that lends itself to moving and playing to the beat
  • Rhythm – some of them work well to introduce half notes or whole notes
  • Adding sign language
  • By the way, whenever you see eighth notes notated in the spirituals, feel free to swing them.
  • Read more Spirituals lesson ideas here.

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