West Elementary Blues

Tonight I finished a mini-residency at West Elementary here in Athens Ohio. I taught two third-grade and two fourth-grade classes helping the students to understand the common 12-bar blues form and how it has influenced rock, country and jazz styles. I then coached each class in writing their own original lyrics which would become a class song with a central theme. As we rehearsed for this evening’s performance they also learned about concepts like stop-time and tag endings. The kids did a great job and it was a pleasure to work with them. Their lyrics are below…



Animals Blues by Grade 3 Huffman
Bright Bluegrass Feel in C

I like to braid, like to braid my pony’s mane
I like to braid, like to braid my pony’s mane
Riding my pony is fun as any game

There’s a big fat whale swimming in the ocean
There’s a big fat whale swimming in the ocean
It might spray you with its blowhole when it gets in motion

We see those monkeys swingin’ through the trees
We see those monkeys swingin’ through the trees
Swingin’ through the trees is how Monkeys do p.e.

Polar bears live in cold and snow
Polar bears live in cold and snow
They don’t even mind when it drops down to zero.

All About Us by Grade 3 Louthain
Medium Shuffle in E

Her name is Micaiah – she likes kangaroos
Her name is Micaiah – she likes kangaroos
When she thinks of the way they hop, it sounds like the blues

His Name is Kyle – he likes to eat broccoli
His Name is Kyle – he likes to eat broccoli
He’ll never turn it down ‘cause it’s so green and tasty

Her Name is Sydney – she lives out among the trees
Her Name is Sydney – she lives out among the trees
She wishes that cheese would grow on the trees

Avery here, he thinks skunks are so cute
Avery here, he thinks skunks are so cute
And the smell pretty funky when they go toot toot toot

Her name is Kierra – she’s a big ol’ Elvis fan
Her name is Kierra – she’s a big ol’ Elvis fan
She likes to hear “Baby Don’t Leave Me” any time she can

Now Cassidy likes to build with star wars legos
Now Cassidy likes to build with star wars legos
He takes Darth Vader with him wherever he goes

Her Name is Ellie – she’s got a schnauzer dog
Her Name is Ellie – she’s got a schnauzer dog
JJ is his name, and he likes to chase the frogs

His name is Jackson – he likes to eat blueberry pie
His name is Jackson – he likes to eat blueberry pie
If you put some pie on his plate, you can say goodbye

Her name is Autumn – she’s got a puppy named peanut
Her name is Autumn – she’s got a puppy named peanut
That dog is just a tiny little pup

The all of us blues (4xs)
There’s something special about each of us
The all of us blues

Pesky Pet Blues by Grade 4 Hansen
Medium Shuffle Blues in E

My dog’s so lazy, he sleeps all through the day
My dog’s so lazy, he sleeps all through the day
My dog’s so lazy, he doesn’t even go out to play

My funky ferret’s so hyper, runs all through the house
My funky ferret’s so hyper, runs all through the house
My funky ferret’s so hyper, runs around and knocks stuff down

I know a real crazy cat, his legs are always pumpin’
I know a real crazy cat, his legs are always pumpin’
That cat’s so crazy, he’s nearly always jumpin’

My sneaky snake slithers all around
My sneaky snake slithers all around
My snake’s so sneaky; he doesn’t even make a sound

We got the pesky pet blues
We got the pesky pet blues
We got the pesky pet blues
We got the pesky pet blues
We got a dog and a ferret and a cat and a snake
We got the pesky pet blues

Random Food Blues by Grade 4 Sloan
Straight Rock Feel in G

I like some peanut butter, cause it’s so sticky and tasty
I like some peanut butter, cause it’s so sticky and tasty
It could be crunchy or creamy, and you can put it in a pastry

I like my pizza with cheese and pepperoni
I always order my pizza with cheese and pepperoni
With sausage and thick crust, but never with bologna

I left my ice cream sitting out in the sun
I left my ice cream sitting out in the sun
It melted on my homework, detention is not gonna be fun

I got the random food blues
I got the random food blues
I got the random food blues
I got the random food blues
Peanut butter, pizza, ice cream and more
I got the random food blues

In addition to the blues we talked about how song are often borrowed and new songs can built on the foundations of old ones. I also talked about how some artists like Weird Al Yankovich create hilarious parodies using well-known songs. This led to one class writing a parody of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird:

Frisbee by Grade 4 Hansen
Parody of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird

If you throw me tomorrow
Will someone still catch me?
‘Cause I’m a free-flying Frisbee
Spinning circles endlessly
Spinning circles endlessly

Dogs leap up and try to catch me
But I sail beyond their reach
As I fly higher and higher
Everything looks small down on the beach

I fly onward and upward
Until I float in outer space
An alien hand reaches out and grabs me
And throws me back the other way
And throws me back the other way

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