Lesson 1: Learning “Kneebone Bend”

Aim: How can we explore call and response while learning “Kneebone Bend”?
Summary: Students learn the song “Kneebone Bend” exploring call and response song form through singing, hand gestures, and movement.
Materials: Musical Explorers CD or online audio, Musical Explorers Student Guide
Time Required: 40 minutes (two 20-minute activities)
Standards: US 1, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5, 7.1, 8, 11; GA 1, 2,6,7,8,9; SC 1, 4, 5
Vocabulary: ancestor, ring shout, call and response, songster, basers, Gullah Geechee

Meet Brenton and Freddie

  • Meet Brenton and Freddie and the McIntosh County Shouters on SG6.
  • Brenton and Freddie are part of the McIntosh County Shouters, whose ancestors have been singing songs on the coast of Georgia for hundreds of years. An ancestor is a relative who lived in the very distant past. Using SG7, discuss the traditions of the McIntosh County Shouters.

Explore Call and Response in “Kneebone Bend”

  • Listen to “Kneebone Bend,” Track 7. This song and “Move Daniel,” Track 8, are part of the
    ring shout tradition.

    • What do you notice about this song?
    • Does the group sing the entire song, or do you hear another part being sung?
  • Ask students if they can identify two different parts in the song-one part sung by a leader and one part sung by the group.

    • Does the group sing the same thing as the leader? What’s different?
  • While listening to the song, ask students to put their hands on their heads when they hear the leader singing, and put their hands on their shoulders when they hear the group singing.

    • This is called call and response. One person sings first (the “call”) and the group sings back (the “response”). In the ring shout, the leader is called the songster and the group is called the basers.
  • Freddie is the lead songster of the McIntosh County Shouters, and the one who sings the call.
  • Invite students to sing the response, or basers, part of the song: “Oh, Lord, kneebone” and “Oh, Lord, kneebone bend.” (Use the lyrics on SG8.)

Sing and Move to “Kneebone Bend”

  • Come up with an action as a class that all the students will do while singing this part (for example, bouncing up and down with their hands on their knees).

Sing “Kneebone Bend” as Songster and Basers

  • Listen to “Kneebone Bend,” Track 7, and teach students the songster parts.
  • Divide the class into two groups-songsters and basers-and sing through the song.
  • Create an action that each part will perform when they sing. Change groups.
  • Invite students who want to be the songster alone to lead the song with the class acting as the basers.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words ancestor, ring shout, call and response, songster, basers, and Gullah Geechee to the Musical Word Wall.

Slaves were people who were bought and sold as property and forced to work for another person without pay or basic rights. They sang because they were not allowed to do other things, like learn to read or write. The slaves who originally sang “Kneebone Bend” were referring to the act of praying and asking for help in a strange and unfamiliar place.

PDF Downloads

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SG8 ↓ Download File