“Bluegrass In the Schools”
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED
An intro song to play as students are arriving (this creates an immediate time for listening and leaning).
A bluegrass song, that is arranged for tradition and contemporary.
Shakers, drums, etc., (any percussion instrument that is easily handled by a student)
Arrive early for soundcheck and do EVERYTHING you can to make the stage colorful and exciting.
(JPEG for a projector, props, set the rhythm instruments on the stage, use your imagination.)
7. This program can be used for any age; you may need to adjust the speed and language of the program.
Bluegrass Music and History
Introduce the word BLUEGRASS
Bluegrass music is associated with country, folk, and Irish traditional tunes. (Play an Irish fiddle tune, have students clap to the beat)
Bill Monroe history (make sure to mention the “Rock n’ Roll” Hall of Fame)
Bill Monroe was a songwriter that wrote a tune that Elvis Presley recorded, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
Perform “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
BUILD A BAND
Bass begins to play a straight beat ALONE. Demonstrate the various techniques of playing the bass (straight beats, walking beats and slap bass) For fun, have your bass player introduce the name of his/her instrument (for example, Tom Gray names his bass, Bessie). Introduce the name of 1946 original Bluegrass Boys bassist (Clarence Clearwater).
Play bass “tap” game, students tap their feet or hands to the “Heartbeat of the Music”.
Mandolin chop and bass are both playing in 4/4 time together.
The mandolin plays the second half of the beat when the technique “Chopping” is used to create more rhythm, like a snare would in a rock/country/blues band.
Play the “tap” game, students click or clap to the mandolin chop.
* Half of the students pat to bass beat; the other half clap to the mandolin chop.
TRADE OFF SIDES!
STYLES AND TECHNIQUES: Chop, Tremelo, chording, playing slow and fast melody.
MANDOLIN was the instrument that Bill Monroe played. Have the mandolin player perform his/her favorite Bill Monroe tune.
Bass and mandolin are in G and continue to play a 4/4 time bass beat, mandolin chop.
The guitar begins with a G strum and plays to the tempo of the beat with the bass and mandolin. THE GUITAR IS THE GLUE THAT HOLDS THE BAND TOGETHER WITH THE BASS AND MANDOLIN CHOP. They will hear the difference...use words like, “FILL”..etc.
LESTER FLATT was one of the original BLUEGRASS BOYS. One of the most popular sounds of bluegrass is the G-RUN.
The guitar plays the G run several times.
Have the students raise their hand when they hear the G-Run (be fun with this game...throw a few tricky melodies in the mix)
Explain basics of the guitar (6 strings, finger pick, what is acoustic verses electric guitar). A MELODY can be played on the guitar (perform a brief example of a guitar melody).
The banjo joins in with the bass, mandolin and guitar (continuing the key of G).
Earl Scruggs was the original member of the “Bluegrass Boys” he developed the famous “Scruggs” style picking. It contributed to the distinct sound of bluegrass music.
The bluegrass banjo has 5 strings, the round top of the banjo is a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity at a resonator, called the head. The head is typically made of plastic, or animal skin and is typically circular. Early forms were also adapted by Africans in America.
BLUEGRASS BANJO TECHNIQUE “SCRUGGS” STYLE.
3-finger banjo roll, using finger picks (a thumb-pick, two finger picks). BEGIN to play the banjo roll.
Play “Smokey Mountain Breakdown”
BAND STOPS after this song!
The violin/fiddle is popular in many countries, cultures and music styles. A violin is a small four-stringed instrument, played with a bow. There is no difference between violins and fiddles apart from the name. People who play folk or traditional music tend to call them fiddles, while classical musicians call them violins. (May want to play some small examples of both). If time the fiddle player can introduce some of the PARTS of the violin: Scroll, Tuning Pegs, Bridge, Fingerboard, chin rest, bow and more (watch your time...probably will only have 45 minutes)!.
Chubby Wise was the original fiddle player of the “Bluegrass Boys”
Introduce the Orange Blossom Special (have fun with this one, demonstrate bowing techniques, hide songs inside of the tune, create train sounds, up the tempo...play NAME THAT TUNE)!.
Begin with a 3 or 4 part vocal chord of “Hello” (from the stooges)...1st singer: Solo
2nd singer: DUET, 3rd singer: TRIO, 4th singer (QUARTET) then go into humming...”Amazing Grace” or another slow tune of your choice.
Speaker of the workshop talks while the harmony singers softly sings behind, just humming the chosen song (Amazing Grace...etc).
“Bill Monroe’s vocal sound would be described as ‘high lonesome’ and usually were 3 to 4 voices producing the technique.”
PERFORM A SAMPLE OF A POPULAR OR FUN BLUEGRASS SONG WITH HARMONIES
AT THIS POINT, YOU DECIDE IF YOU WOULD LIKE A QUESTION AND ANSWER MOMENT. IF NOT, ADD SOME NEW IDEAS TO YOUR PRESENTATION.
Add the percussive instruments, explain that this would go into the category of “American Roots” music. Perform a contemporary familiar song, have them play or clap while you are performing. This is a situation that will be different in every school. Creating interaction with the students should breed enthusiasm.
It is important to prepare a short presentation that demonstrates traditional and contemporary songs. This presentation requires flexibility because of unknown factors. You cannot be TOO detailed, but be CLEAR in the presentation. You will be given only 45 minutes to do this presentation, so please move quickly at a speed that the students can enjoy. With the challenge of time, age, and environmental surroundings, you will need to decide on how detailed the objectives should be. For an example, at times I ended up with at least 5-10 minutes, so I taught “clogging” while “Angeline the Baker” was played. Students that were chosen or willing came up and danced with me. The teachers love to see students being involved in your program; it is much more educational to include the listening audience.
For more information concerning Valerie's educational program and objectives, please contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. AMERICAN RO0TS MUSIC
2. MUSIC BUSINESS PROGRAM
3. BLUEGRASS IN THE SCHOOLS
4. VOCAL WORKSHOPS
5. SONGWRITING WORKSHOPS
Valerie has a Bachelor's degree in Music Education and Vocal Studies from the University of Kansas City, MO. She has a enthusiasm that shows on the stage while teaching large amounts of students about music and culture! Here strengths are teaching about Roots, Americana and Bluegrass Music. Valerie has also conducted countless personal and group vocal lessons.
She also has been invited to several colleges, workshops, organizations, and schools to conduct a coarse concerning current events of
the music industry. She had the pleasure to take part in assisting a strong development of objectives for educational development for "The International Bluegrass Museum". It has been designed to teach grades 1-12 for over 600 students in large theaters, venues and arts programs . Valerie has presented over 400 schools this very program for 15 years.
To create an awareness and interest for Bluegrass Music, it founders, history and instrumentation.
Era: 1946 to Present
Where Does Bluegrass Music come from:
Bluegrass Music was created by Bill Monroe, from Rosine, Ky. He brought his unique style to the WSM Grand Ol’ Opry radio show with his band, “The Bluegrass Boys.” As the music became more popular and other bands began to emulate Mr. Monroe’s sound, a new genre was born.
How long has Bluegrass Music been in existence?
Mr. Monroe started his band in the 1930s, but did not reach the magical combination that caught the ears of the world until 1946.
What primary cultures and geography play Bluegrass Music?
Bluegrass Music was born in the mountains of Appalachia, which was settled primarily by people from the British Isles. They brought with them ancient ballads and fiddle tunes. African-Americans and their bluesy music also played a part in the creation of Bluegrass Music, as did sacred songs, Country and Folk Music.
What is the folklore of Bluegrass Music?
Bluegrass Music is pure and reflects the lives of the people who sing it and the songs are often based on someone’s experience or on a story. Bluegrass Music is rooted in traditional Folk, Country and Blues. Many of the most commonly known songs in the genre have been handed down for generations. One such example is “Lorena, wherein a Civil War soldier is writing a last letter to his wife before his death.
How much time is involved in learning Bluegrass instruments?
Much time and energy is put into learning Bluegrass instruments. The practice requires repetition and patience. Many musicians have to be very disciplined to learn to play their instruments. Several of the genre’s top instrumentalists and singers have gone on to successful careers that branch into all kinds of music and are the “go-to” people for recording sessions work all over the world.
Is the interest in Bluegrass Music growing?
Increasingly, Bluegrass Music is appealing to diverse audiences. It offers and organic, hands-on musical alternative that can be enjoyed by all generations. Bluegrass Music has grown in popularity all over the world, most notably in Europe and Japan.
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