Lesson 1: Learning “Good Morning Blues”

Aim: How does the blues use the blues scale and blue notes?
Summary: Students learn “Good Morning Blues,” practice call and response with the blues scale, and improvise melodies with blue notes.
Materials: Musical Explorers online audio
SC: MGK-2.1, MGK-2.2, MGK-2.5, MGK-2.6
Vocabulary: blue notes, blues scale, lyrics

> See Glossary

Sing “Good Morning Blues”

  • Listen to “Good Morning Blues,” Track 31.

  • Learn the chorus to “Good Morning Blues” using Track 32.

“The fundamental form in all of American music — that’s what the blues is. It’s in every folk song, gospel song, the sound of the banjo and the sound of the guitar. It’s in the sound of ragtime, it’s in the sound of John Philip Sousa’s marches. It’s hard to get the blues out of your sound.”

—Wynton Marsalis,
   Trumpeter, composer, educator, and Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center

Learn about Lyrics and the Blues

  • The words of a song are called lyrics.
  • The blues is a kind of music where the lyrics are often sad or about hard times. However, it’s important to understand the difference between having the blues and singing or playing the blues, since many blues tunes leave us with a happy feeling. Singing the blues implies that even though we all have hard things to deal with in life, you’re capable of continuing on in the face of misfortune—and expressing yourself with style!
    • What does it mean when someone says they’ve got the blues?
    • One way to think about blues music is to imagine that singing the blues is like taking medicine. If you want to get rid of feeling the blues, you need to sing the blues.
  • Listen to “Good Morning Blues,” Track 32, and talk about the lyrics.

    • Have you ever woken up with the blues? Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night with the blues?
    • In this song, Eric has the blues at night and again in the morning. But instead of being mad or sad about it, he treats the blues like a friend — saying “Good morning!” instead of “Go away!”
    • If you were friends with the blues, what would you talk about?

“Good Morning Blues”

Good morning blues, how do you do
[Good morning blues,] how do you do
I’m doing all right
Good morning, how are you.

I laid down last night,
turned from side to side
I laid down last night,
turned from side to side
I was not sick, I was just dissatisfied.

When I got up this morning
the blues walking ’round my bed
[When] I got up this morning,
the blues walking ’round my bed
I went to eat my breakfast,
the blues was in my bread.

Well I called for you baby and you came today
I went and called for you yesterday but you came walking in today
Your mouth is open and you don’t know what to say.

Good morning blues, how do you do
Good morning blues, how do you do
I’m doing all right
Good morning, how are you.

Lead Belly

“Good Morning Blues” was composed by Huddie Ledbetter (c. 1888–1949), better known as Lead Belly. Born in Louisiana, he started playing music when he was two years old, and left home to play professionally when he was a teenager. He played many instruments, but is best known for his virtuosity on the 12-string guitar. He composed over 500 songs during his lifetime. His songs and his playing influenced generations of musicians in all genres of American music.

Discover the Blues Scale

  • Review the concept of scale that we learned with Falu in Unit 1 / Lesson 2.
    • A scale is a set of musical pitches that are used to build the melody of a song.
  • Like the scale used in Falu’s song “Allahoo,” the blues scale has pitches that may sound different than the major scale used in Western music. However, the blues scale is the foudnation for many, if not all, genres of popular music.
  • Listen to the major scale below, Track 33.

Explore Blue Notes

    • Do you notice any blue notes in his singing?

Creative Extension

  • Pick a well known, simple song (for example, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”) and practice adding blue notes to the melody.

  • Start by singing the melody as plain as you can.
  • Next, add one or two blue notes to each lyric.

  • For fun, see if you can make each note of the melody a blue note!

SG32 includes the lyrics for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” with suggestions for where to add blue notes. For inspiration, listen to Eric play and sing a blues version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on Track 36.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words blue notes, blues scale, and lyrics to the Musical Word Wall.
> See Glossary

PDF Downloads

SG32 ↓ Download File


Audio Tracks