Monday, 5 November 2012

12 Bar Blues Activity

My grade 6 students have been working on the tune "Duke's Place", an arrangement of Duke Ellington's C-jam blues. This arrangement by Doug Goodkin is found in his book, "Now is the Time", published by Pentatonic Press. While learning the Goodkin written words, barred instrument parts and working on improvising, we have been identifying and talking about the 12 bar blues. 

In preparation for their assessment at the end of the week, we had a sorting contest today! I created cards that had I, IV or V on them and put them in packages of 13 cards (one extra to make it more tricky!) paper clipping them together.

After reviewing 12 bar blues with students for the millionth time (...well it felt like it...) I put them in pairs and gave them a package of chord symbols. They were to leave their pack face down with the paper clip on. When I said, "Go!" the pairs needed to organize their cards as fast as they could in order to create the 12 bar blues pattern. When they were finished they were to raise their hands and after looking at my stopwatch, I would shout out their time. We did a second round- how many groups can do it in under 20 seconds? After a couple of tries everyone was able to do that and we tried 15 seconds, 10 seconds, etc. The best of course was when I told them that the other class' time was better and that they needed to try and beat them!

I also explain to my students that there are different variations of the blues pattern such as I-I-I-I for the first four bars instead of I-IV-I-I like in Duke's Place.

Our next step is bingo chips with letter names on them. Students will not only organize their 12 bar blues pattern, they will place the letter name bingo chips on each card to indicate bass notes in different keys. Should be fun!

Click HERE  for a FREEBIE printout of the chord symbol cards and matching study sheet!

How do you teach the blues? What activities and resources do you use?

- Steph


  1. I do not teach the blues...but I do love that lovely laminating job on your cards :P

  2. Thank-you so much! You are amazing Renee S!!!!