Lesson 1: Learning “Blue Skies”

Aim: How can visual patterns help us hear musical patterns?
Summary: Students deepen their understanding of melodic patterns while learning to sing “Blue Skies”
by Irving Berlin.
Materials: Musical Explorers CD or online audio, Musical Explorers Student Guide, scarves or napkins, classroom parachute or flat bed sheet
Time Required: 30 minutes (three 10-minute activities)
Standards: US 1, 2, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5, 7.2, 9, 10, 11; GA 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8; SC 1, 2, 3, 4, 6
Vocabulary: lyrics, contour, pitch

Meet Kim

Look and Listen for Patterns in “Blue Skies”

  • Listen to “Blue Skies,” Track 15.
  • As a class, look at the skylines on SG18. This is the skyline of New York City. In this unit, we will explore jazz songs written in New York City. Kim is a professional jazz singer. Jazz is an American style of music that is popular all over the world.

    • What do you notice about these buildings? (e.g. some are taller, wider)
    • Now look at the second skyline. What do you notice?
  • Lyrics, or the words in a song, are written above the buildings. Ask students to follow the words on top of the buildings as they listen to the song.
  • The contour of the second skyline represents the melody of the song that the students will learn next. Ask the students to identify any patterns they notice in the skyline. (For instance, the buildings are higher in the middle of the skyline and lower at both ends of the skyline.)

    • What do you notice about the buildings that say “blue” and “skies”? (The first “blue” is a low building, while the first “skies” is a much taller building. The pattern is reversed at the end of the skyline when the words repeat.)
  • Listen to Track 16, chorus only, as students follow the second skyline on SG18. Listen to the track several times, asking students to follow and trace the words with their fingers if possible. Explain that just like a skyline has a shape, or contour, a melody has a shape, or contour.
  • Now look at the music for “Blue Skies.” Ask students if they see a pattern in the notes. Show them that the pattern in the notes matches the pattern in the buildings.

Learn “Blue Skies”

  • Once students have heard the melody several times, ask them to sing it. Encourage them to move their hands up and down, following the contour of the melody.

    • Pitch is the word we use for high or low sounds. The contour of the second skyline is the same as the contour of the pitches written below, and that is the same as the contour of the melody we are singing.
  • Next, pass out a scarf to each child. If scarves are not available, paper napkins may be substituted. Listen to “Blue Skies,” Track 15. Have the students use their scarves or napkins to follow the contour of the melody.
  • Finally, have students make a circle around a classroom parachute. Have the class move the parachute to the contour of the song. (If a parachute is not available, a flat bed sheet may be substituted.)

Musical Word Wall

Add the words lyrics, contour, and pitch to the Musical Word Wall

PDF Downloads

SG17 ↓ Download File
SG18 ↓ Download File