Lesson 1: Learning “Blue Skies”
Sing “Blue Skies”
Listen to “Blue Skies,” Track 39.
Sing along to “Blue Skies,” using Track 39.
- Discuss the lyrics to “Blue Skies.”
- What is the song about?
- How does it make you feel?
Explore Melodic Contour in “Blue Skies”
- Explain that melodic contour is the shape and direction a melody makes in music.
- Listen to “Blue Skies” melody vocals, Track 40. As you listen, use the New York City skyline below to trace the melodic contour.
- How would you describe the shape of this melody? Is it smooth, jumpy, curvy, jagged, etc.?
- When does the melody move by steps? By leaps?
- Invite volunteers to draw the shape of the melodic contour.
- Listen to “Blue Skies” melody vocals, Track 40, again; this time your students can sing along and trace the melodic contour in the air.
Explore Form in “Blue Skies”
- Explain that musical form is the way music is organized; it is like a map or a plan for a piece of music.
- Explain that “Blue Skies” consists of four parts. Three of those parts have the same basic melody; those three parts are called A.
- Listen again to “Blue Skies” melody, Track 40, letting your students know that this melody will be heard in the A sections of the song.
- Now, listen to “Blue Skies,” Track 39. Ask students to identify the A section each time it occurs and make up a movement to represent it. When they hear a section that is different from A, ask them to indicate that by making up a different movement.
- How did you know that there was a new section in the song?
- The part in the middle has a different melody, we call that part B.
- What about the B section makes it different from the A section?
- Explain that this form is called AABA, a common form in jazz and other styles of music.
- Listen again to “Blue Skies,” Track 39, with your students performing their movements for each section.
Discover Soloing in “Blue Skies”
- Explain that an important part of jazz is improvisation, in which the musicians make up variations of the melody and rhythm of a song on the spur of a moment.
- Explain that in “Blue Skies,” several of the musicians improvise (called “soloing”) at different points in the song while the rest of the band supports them. You can reflect back on the use of improvisation in the Music of India unit from the previous semester.
- Listen again to “Blue Skies,” Track 39.
- Ask students to raise their hands when they hear the musicians soloing, and identify the instrument (or voice) that is soloing.
Musical Word Wall
Add the words form, melodic contour, and soloing to the Musical Word Wall.
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