Year 8 Blues song tribute

‘No more music teachers thoughtlessly meddling in the disciplinary knowledge of other subjects but now with an enhanced focus on music-making, meaning-making and always with an ‘authentic real-world’ product in view.’

This was one of my conclusions made in an earlier blog reporting on an example of project-based learning in an East London school.

I was intrigued by the ways in which music was integral to the organization of the school’s curriculum. There was little sense of subject hierarchy. Music was there to enrich the pupil’s knowledge and understanding of the world they were being inducted into.

In the same blog I took the reader through the process of project planning and the devising of the enquiry question that would structure an upcoming project.

Three months later the project is completed, the ‘beautiful work’ has been produced and this week I attended the school’s exhibition of beautiful work.

The project ‘How can music tell the story of slavery?’ brought together History, Drama and Music. Here is the project’s overview:

The legacy of slavery still impacts the world today. Britain’s role in the slave trade is often left out of history, as is the important contribution that certain individuals made to the abolition of slavery. To find out more, students were set the following task:


You will work in your band to make a blues song tribute to a significant figure in the history of slavery. You will need to record the historical context and some information about your person as well as your song. The CD will also feature a collection of work songs and a recorded drama performance.


Significant content:


  • The history of the slave trade
  • Britain’s role in it’s development and abolition
  • Significant figures of the slave trade


  • Explore the play text ‘Mean to be Free’
  • Using oracy explore the lives and emotions of slavery
  • Compose and deliver a poem using a stimulus on modern day slavery


  • How to write and perform Blues music
  • How to improvise freely when performing
  • The importance of music as a tool for survival, protest and expression

Below is one of the three podcasts created.

There’s alot more for me to find out about all this.

Music bullent point 3 suggests a stong critical-contextual element. There’s plenty of human interest.

No doubt all manner of skills will have been mastered but why not think about this as rich in knowledge: knowing how to make Blues music; knowing how to improvise freely and knowing about the social-cultural-political significance of music in the world. As Music Ofsted might say ‘this work gives weight to the provenence of Blues music’.

I asked a stranger to the context of the podcast to listen.

The response: ‘good voice, intense communication, strongly felt lyrics’.

3 thoughts on “Year 8 Blues song tribute

  1. Pingback: Blue notes and false relations | Music Education Now

  2. Pingback: Music education’s existential strand | Music Education Now

  3. Pingback: Curriculum Intent: Music at Key Stage 3 – Music Education Now

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