The Blues Teacher’s Guide CD
Bukka White, “The Panama Limited”
Muddy Waters, “Mannish Boy”
Chris Thomas King, “Da Thrill Is Gone From Here”
Bessie Smith, “Lost Your Head Blues”
Shemekia Copeland, “The Other Woman”
African drums (conga, bongo, timbale are all acceptable)
Standard five-piece drum kit (if available)
The Blues Teacher’s Guide The Beat
of the Blues
This lesson focuses on how students can learn basic blues
percussion patterns by considering the polyrhythms of African
drumming and investigating how and why such drums were banned
during slavery. Students will listen to several blues and non-blues
recordings to practice recognizing the “backbeat” in each song.
Hands-on exercises will show students how to identify and create
a backbeat rhythm.
Addresses the following
National Curriculum Standards
for Music Education
Primary: 2, 6
©2003 Vulcan Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photos: Juke Joint, ©Library of Congress; W.C. Handy, Frank Driggs Collection
DEFINITIONAL LESSONS: What Are the Blues? Approaching the Blues
By completing this lesson, the student will be able to:
Understand the musical and cultural importance of African drumming.
Demonstrate steady rhythms in a variety of blues styles.
Recognize the role of the backbeat in blues music.
The Blues Teacher’s Guide The Beat of the Blues FILM TIE-INS
Feel Like Going Home (segments showing tribal drumming)
The rhythm of the blues has its roots in African drumming. This lesson explores the connection.
Start by playing the following recordings: “The Panama Limited” by Bukka White, “Mannish Boy”
by Muddy Waters, and “Da Thrill Is Gone From Here” by Chris Thomas King. While listening,
have students write descriptions of the rhythmic variations they hear from song to song, both
in execution and in musical “feel.” Questions for students to conside