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
Standards: GA: MK-2GM.1, MK-2GM.2, MK-2GM.6, MK-2GM.7, MK-2GM.8, MK-2GM.9
SC: MGK-2.1, MGK-2.4, MGK-2.5
Vocabulary: ancestor, Gullah Geechee, ring shout, call and response, songster, basers


Meet Carletha and Brenton

  • Meet Carletha and Brenton on SG9.
  • Carletha and Brenton 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. The McIntosh County Shouters are part of the Gullah Geechee culture and tradition. Many of The McIntosh County Shouters are family members. In fact, Carletha is Brenton’s grandmother! Using SG10, discuss the traditions of the Gullah Geechee people.


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.
  • Using the lyrics on SG11, invite students to sing the response part of the song:
    “Oh Lord, kneebone” and “Oh Lord, kneebone bend.”


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


Slavery in the Southern United States

Slaves are people who are bought and sold as property and forced to work for another person without pay or basic rights. In southern colonies including Georgia and South Carolina in the 17th and 18th centuries, these people came from the western coast of Africa. Slavery officially ended in the United States on December 6, 1865, when Congress ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Even though slaves were not allowed to do things like learn to read or write, slaves often composed songs and sang them with one another. The slaves who originally sang “Kneebone Bend” were referring to the act of kneeling down and asking for help in a strange and unfamiliar place.

PDF Downloads

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SG10 ↓ Download File
SG11 ↓ Download File


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