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Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
Getting Started With This Guide  
Study Guide Summary  
Outline of the Study Guide  
Study Unit I Defining Terms  
Study Unit II Fieldwork Basics  
Study Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk"  
Study Unit IV The State of Our Lives: Being a Louisiana Neighbor  
Study Unit V Oral Traditions--Swapping Stories  
Study Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape  
Study Unit VII Material Culture-The Stuff of Life  
Study Unit VIII The Worlds of Work and Play  
Study Unit IX The Seasonal Round and Life Cycles  
Educator's Links  
Educator's Guide Glossary  
Educator's Guide Credits  
Educator's Opportunities For Professional Development  
Join The Community
Louisiana Folklife website Homepage  
Louisiana Folklife Program Home  
Louisiana's Living Traditions: Articles, Photos and Virtual Exhibits about Louisiana Folklife  


Unit VI Outline

Introduction - Louisiana's Musical Landscape

Lesson 1: Music Around the State: Sound and Place

Lesson 2: Listening Logs

Lesson 3: Generational Music Communities

Lesson 4: Moving to Music

Lesson 5: Music Is Business

Lesson 6: Louisiana's Legendary Musicians

Unit VI Resources





Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape

Lesson 3 Generational Music Communities


My father was a singer. My mother sang, too. She learned mostly from her mother. I imagine a long time ago they had to have some kind of pleasure for the children. So my music came down that way, through the generations.
I learned to sing from my mother. . . . I sang even though Mom told me I didn't have a good voice. I would just sing because I wanted to sing. We often sat together and Mom would watch me while I tried to sing. She would say, "O Lord, you don't know how to sing. Your tongue is too heavy." She sang in a rich, deep voice, but I can't do that. My voice comes from right on top. I tried to sing deep like Mom, but I would be forcing myself and I know I can't do it like that, so I have to do it the natural way, just like I can do it. It's better for you to just act natural than to pretend something you know you can't do, you know?

--Inez Catalon, Creole ballad singer, Vermilion Parish

Grade Level


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Music, Social Studies, Theatre Arts


Purpose of Lesson

This lesson focuses on age-related generations so that students consider how traditional music is transmitted from one generation to another and how music functions for people within a generation, including their own.


Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills

1. Students explore music in their own generational music communities and other generational communities, then compare and contrast their own with others' communities.

M-AP-M2 Recognizes that concepts of beauty differ by culture and the taste varies from person to person.

M-HP-E2 Recognize and discuss the function of music within historical and cultural contexts, including celebrations, ceremonies, and special occasions.

M-AP-E2 Recognize and respond to concepts of beauty and taste in the ideas and creations of others through the study of music.

CA-4M-M3 Recognizing and identifying music as to function, purpose, and appropriateness as related to celebrations, ceremonies, and other events. (3, 4, 5)

M-AP-M1 Understand and apply expanded music vocabulary to describe aesthetic qualities of musical compositions.

ELA-6-E3 Identifying key differences of various genres. (1, 2, 4, 5

ELA-5-M3 Locating, gathering, and selecting information using graphic organizers, outlining, note taking, summarizing, interviewing, and surveying to produce documented texts and graphics. (1, 3, 4)

2. Students research masters and apprentices of traditional music, investigate the master-apprentice relationship, and personalize their understanding in a writing assignment.

M-HP-M6 Identify prominent musicians of various cultures and compare their lives, careers, works, and influences.

H-1A-M4 Analyzing historical data using primary and secondary sources. (1, 2, 3, 4)

M-HP-H2 Analyze the function of music as it fulfills societal needs within historical and cultural contexts.

ELA-1-M4 Interpreting texts with supportive explanations to generate connections to real- life situations and other texts (e.g., business, technical, scientific). (1, 2, 4, 5)

ELA-2-M1 Writing a composition that clearly implies a central idea with supporting details in a logical, sequential order. (1, 4)

3. Students connect with older and younger generations of people as they conduct fieldwork to research generational music communities at school, at home, and in the broader community.

M-HP-M2 Compare and contrast the function of music within historical and cultural contexts, such as celebrations, ceremonies, and events..

M-HP-E2 Recognize and discuss the function of music within historical and cultural contexts, including celebrations, ceremonies, and special occasions.

CP-1-B7 Demonstrating awareness of a variety of ways to express ideas. (1, 2)

4. Students demonstrate a song or tune that they have learned or taught traditionally by word of mouth and observation.

M-CE-M4 Recognize and demonstrate elements of music, using voice, musical instruments, electronic technology, or other available media.

M-CE-E5 Participate in organized musical activities including singing, playing, and movement.


Time Required

3-5 class periods



If your students will be doing fieldwork, you may need digital cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders in addition to notepads and pencils as well as appropriate fieldwork forms. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using. Try to accumulate recordings of various generational music communities to share with your students. Check with the school librarian media specialist and music specialist for resources.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

Keeping It Alive: Louisiana's Folklife Apprenticeship Program

Raymond Blakes and Clarastine Cook

Lula Landry, Inez Catalon, and Marce Lacouture

Adaptation Strategies

Louisiana's Legendary Musicians: A Select List

Louisiana Folk Artist Biographies

Louisiana Folklife Articles  (Select Music Traditions)

Public and Private Domains of Cajun Women Musicians in Southwest Louisiana, by Lisa Richardson

Music of the Black Churches, by Joyce Marie Jackson

American Roots Music

American Routes

River of Song / The Artists

Top Forty Hits - 1930-1999

Student Worksheets

Concept Map

Diamante Worksheet

Discovering Generational Music Communities

Generational Music Communities Survey

Listening Log - Music Around Me

Venn Diagram

Assessment Tools

"If I Were an Apprentice" Checklist

Sources of Generational Music

Things I Know About Generational Music Communities

Things I Learned About Generational Music Communities


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Concept Map
2. "If I Were an Apprentice" Checklist
3. Venn Diagrams
4. Listening Logs - Music Around Me
5. Things I Know About Generational Music Communities


1. Things I Learned About Generational Music Communities
2. Sources of Generational Music


1. Biographical sketches, biopoems, diamantes, essays, resumés
2. Master-Apprentice Skits
3. Adult Interviews about Traditional Music
4. Fieldwork Projects - "Music from Two Generations"
5. Listening Logs
6. "Music Through the Years" Albums
7. Songs composed for a different generation


Background Information for the Teacher

This lesson focuses on generational music communities -- of adults, teenagers, and children. Students identify their own generational community, as well as older and younger ones. Music is transmitted within and between these different age-related communities, or folk groups. Folklorists use the term folk group (see Unit I) to describe a specific collection of people who share a worldview based on cultural commonalties. When we use the term generational community, we are talking about a folk group who share an interest in similar types of music and who are also bound together by age-related traditions and worldviews. The boundary markers of generational music communities constantly shift, depending on the population in question. We may be talking about people who share ethnicity, family, or region; or about a group of individuals born and living at the same time; about a group of individuals sharing status (as that of students in a school), which may be temporary.

In generational traditional music communities, adults are typically tradition bearers and teachers; teenagers can be characterized by innovation in that they use and reinterpret what they've been taught; and children often use hand games and rhymes. Often a master musician will work with an apprentice to teach the tradition to younger people in the community, either formally or informally.

Members of these generational music communities will gather at different places to hear, perform, or dance to traditional secular and sacred music. Babies will be at home, hearing lullabies and birthday and party songs; older children might be on the playground, at home, with friends at school, or at religious organizations; adolescents are often alone with a radio or MP3 player, plugged into headphones, or watching music videos with friends; adults may be at a religious service, festival, or concert. There are places where all generations come together: pow wows, religious occasions, rites of passage such as weddings and funerals, festivals, fais do-do, and parades, for example.

When we talk about generational music communities, we are talking about the transmission of culture. Key questions to consider are: What are characteristics of different generational music communities? What music do members of generational communities learn and teach each other? How do they learn traditional music within and between generations? The answers will be as varied as the people who ask the questions. But to offer brief examples, we can say that parents might teach children to sing "Happy Birthday," and children often learn from other children humorous variations of the song--"Happy Birthday to you / You live in a zoo." The Baby Boomer Generation might sing "Blowin' in the Wind" with shared memories of the 1960s--the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, and the peace movement. Some Baby Boomer parents might teach their children to sing "Blowin' in the Wind" and tell personal experience narratives of that era to drive home the song's importance to their generation. Grandparents may teach grandchildren hand rhymes set to music, such as "The Itsie Bitsie Spider" because their grandparents taught the song to them. Sunday school teachers may teach the hand motions of "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" or "Deep and Wide" to young children to teach religious values. Children also learn parody songs such as "On Top of Spaghetti" at camp or on the playground. The teaching and learning is often done through observation and imitation--in traditional fashion. Relationships can be formal, informal, secondhand, or seemingly accidental within and between generations.

It is important to remember that generational traditions of music will not always fit tidily into categories of folk, popular, or elite. For example, a popular song that adolescents hear on the radio might then be used in folk ways: a special dance at a football game might develop to "The Saints Go Marching In." The popular music of the Neville Brothers, a New Orleans family musical group, is often used in folk ways during Mardi Gras, with traditional dance movements. However, in this unit we are making a deliberate effort to focus, as much as possible, on traditional folk music, not popular or classical music.

This lesson also connects to folklife apprenticeships because the master is usually older than the apprentice. It also links to Unit VIII, Lesson 1 and Lesson 3. In Louisiana the value of inter-generational transmission is recognized and encouraged by the folklife apprenticeship program, which you can read about in Keeping It Alive: Louisiana's Folklife Apprenticeship Program.


To Prepare

Read Background Information for the Teacher, above, and think about how best to initiate this lesson with your students. Older students will be able to conduct more sophisticated fieldwork and analysis. Review the Extensions and Explorations in addition to the activities to choose activities for your students: staging skits, researching traditional roots of popular music, studying the music master and apprentice relationship, and so on. Consider how your own generational music communities have changed from early childhood to today. What do you remember about your parents' or grandparents' music communities? What do you overhear of children's music communities? Visit the website Keeping It Alive: Louisiana's Folklife Apprenticeship Program to review the Louisiana Division of the Arts master and apprentice program. Focus particularly on the blues guitar playing of Raymond Blakes and Clarastine Cook and on the Cajun home music of Lula Landry, Inez Catalon, and Marce Lacouture. Also read Public and Private Domains of Cajun Women Musicians in Southwest Louisiana, by Lisa Richardson and Music of the Black Churches, by Joyce Marie Jackson for examples of inter-generational music traditions. Review the websites listed in Step 4 to choose which are appropriate for your students' biographical research. Refer to Unit II to review fieldwork procedures. Try to identify traditional or other musicians in the community for students to interview. If you want students to use these resources and they are written above their reading level, use Adaptation Strategies for ways to adjust them to levels that students can understand.


4th and 8th Grade Activities

1. Read one of the quotes from the beginning of this lesson aloud to students and ask them to brainstorm about their own traditional music communities. Model for students by sharing some of your own. Start with school, family, or religious groups to identify some music communities. These communities can be within your students' own generations, or they can be inter-generational. Remember that a key element in traditional music is variation, so there might be different versions of the same song. One version is not more "right" than another. Ask students to consider who taught them about music. Other students? Teachers? Parents? Grandparents? Cousins? Ask them to complete the Discovering Generational Music Communities. After they have individually completed the worksheet, ask them to share their answers with the class or in groups. Distinguishing between popular music and traditional music that a generation shares will be an interesting challenge throughout this lesson. After discussion, you can use the Things I Know About Generational Music Communities Worksheet as an introduction to the lesson and as a pre-assessment tool that students will return to at the end of the unit.

As a homework or class assignment, have students complete the Concept Map worksheet with information from their Discovering Generational Music Communities. Explain that they may need to add more ovals to accommodate all the concepts on their worksheets, and that some ovals may relate to more than one item. Encourage creative and adventuresome thinking.

Technology Option: Concept maps can be created with mind mapping software.

2. Ask students to list some folk groups that they belong to and identify traditional music associated with that group. Share some of your own. Groups might be friends, a class, Scouts, religious organizations, 4-H, or clubs. Ask them to pair off with someone who doesn't know one of their songs and teach it to their partners.

3. Students can also pair off to interview each other about music that they've learned from someone of an older generation. They should complete the Generational Music Communities Survey and share results as a class or in groups.

4. Students will learn more about generational music communities by studying the master and apprentice relationship. Assign students to research master traditional musicians in Louisiana: What kind of music do they play or sing? How did they learn the music? Where do they perform? Are they teaching anyone their music? Consult:

If these are written above your students' reading ability, refer to the Adaptation Strategies for ways to adjust and modify them to levels that students can understand.

Each student should choose one master and write a short biographical sketch, a two-page essay, a diamante, or a resumé. Access and print copies of the Diamante Worksheet and help students follow the directions. This activity will help clarify in students' minds the elements of each type of music, plus the differences between the different types.

Students could also perform a role-playing skit where a "master" teaches an "apprentice" about his or her music. Consider different roles for students in these skits: a shyer student may want to be a "technician," or a "photographer" or a "manager" who organizes information gathered by the group.

5. Students may write an essay or give an oral presentation, "If I Were an Apprentice," explaining which Louisiana traditional musician they would choose as a master and why, how undertaking an apprenticeship would change your life, what the master would gain, and how an apprenticeship differs from after-school lessons. Students could include a musical sample by the master. Introduce the "If I Were an Apprentice" Checklist and review all the Quality Features. Remind students to plan their essays by writing about each feature. After the writing, they should verify that this was done by placing a checkmark after each in the Self column of the Checklist, then edit the essay to include any that are missing. Pair off students and have them read each other's essays and score them in the Peer column. Finally, you can score the essay and assign a score.

6. Help students produce a generational music presentation of traditional music recordings of different eras. Ask the media specialist for recordings and encourage students to bring in recordings. With older students, discuss what lyrics are appropriate for the classroom and ask their assistance in researching sources for traditional music and dance of different generations. A group of students should present each generation's music, relaying what they have learned about the music and those who played, danced, and listened to it. This is also an opportunity for students to sing or play something they've learned from another generation, younger or older. Students may also demonstrate or describe dances they know and have learned about through their research. (See Unit VI Lesson 4 for activities on researching folk dance and movement.)

7. Assign student to compose a song for someone of a different generation. They may borrow the tune of a traditional song, just traditional musicians do. Find practical steps for songwriting in the Country Music Association's Words and Music Teachers Guide.

8. Assess student growth in awareness from the beginning of the lesson with the Things I Learned About Generational Music Communities assessment form. Ask students to complete the forms and compare them with their earlier versions, then assign themselves a grade. On the last line, you can assign a grade.


4th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Share a traditional song that you have learned from someone or taught someone from another generational music community with the class or in groups.

2. Interview one or two adults about traditional music in their past. Have them recount what they learned, how they learned, what memories the music brings to mind, what the music means to them. Learn the song or find a recording of the songs they describe, sing or play it for the class, and tell their stories. Look for recordings of traditional music in your school library and on the Internet (see Technology Connections above). See Unit II Lesson 3 for guidance on inviting a community member into the classroom and ways to maximize this learning opportunity.

3. Read this quotation by show-boat musician Vic Tooker of New Orleans. Using your imagination, draw a picture of him playing all the instruments that he lists in the quotation. Then draw a picture of a current musician whom you like, playing an instrument if appropriate. Compare the musicians in your drawings using a Venn Diagram or two-column chart.

My dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather all played four-string show-boat banjo on the steamboats, among many other instruments, and my great-grandfather was also the captain of the Lizzie Castle, [a tugboat] which pushed show boats on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. I spent seventeen years as the interlocutor, which is something like a combination emcee and social director, on the Delta Queen. I guess I have this in my blood--it's like a disease. I read music, but as Louis Armstrong said, "not enough to interfere with the enjoyment of my playing." The finale of my act used to be playing "Tiger Rag" on the five instruments at once. I'd play the accordion with my left hand, the xylophone with three mallets in my right hand, the harmonica in my mouth with a neck rack, the bass drum with my right foot, and a sock cymbal with my left foot.

--Vic Tooker, Musician, Orleans Parish

4. Make up new words to the camp song "If I Weren't a Boy Scout," a cumulative song with a tune similar to "Pop Goes the Weasel." Call it "If I Were an Apprentice." Represent the master / apprentice you researched and make up a rhythmic sound that reflects the tradition of that person. For example,

If I were an apprentice I know what I would do
  If I were an apprentice, I'd sweep the shop for you
  Swish, swish, now I'll get my wish (2x)
If I were an apprentice I know what I would do
  If I were an apprentice, I'd listen to you, too
  Blah Blah, talking until noon. (2x)


8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Design a fieldwork project to collect songs or stories about music from two different age groups in your school, family, or community. Refer to Unit II to review proper procedures such as filing out release forms and thanking your interviewees. Use the Generational Music Communities Survey as well as release forms. If you record your interviews, add them to the classroom listening center and record your observations in fieldnotes and your Listening Log - Music Around Me from Unit VI Lesson 2 Listening Logs.

2. Prepare a "Music Through the Years" scrapbook or album that shows the differences in traditional or popular music for students and older generations. Begin by collecting and photocopying photos of high school proms over the years from yearbooks and family members' photo albums. Label copies with the year, put them in a binder, and use them as prompts in interviews with adults from different generations. Ask interviewees what songs were their favorites as teens. Ask if they have a story to go with any of the songs; where, when, and with whom they would listen to the songs; what kinds of dances they did. If you're recording interviews, ask interviewees to sing, hum, or whistle part of a favorite song. Try to find a recording of the song to bring to class and play during a Generational Hit Parade, when you can share your interviews with classmates. As a class, compare school and community traditions that include pop music from different generations: dances, parades, parties, festivals, sports. By collecting personal narratives about these songs you can analyze why songs might have been meaningful to a generation.

Technology Options: Find the Top 40 songs for any year between 1930 and 1999 by accessing Top Forty Hits - 1930-1999. Click on the year of your interviewee's prom in the left column. Locate any song your interviewee has mentioned, click on it, and then print the lyrics. Include the printout in your album. Your interviewee might like a copy of the printout too.

3. Essentially, all pop music has deep roots in traditional music and within folk groups. Research the traditional roots of pop music from one or more generations. You can use your research from the Music Through the Years Album above or choose popular music that you like. Some of the websites in Technology Connections above can teach you a lot about the relationship between traditional and pop music. Look at both American Roots Music and American Routes, for example.

4. Read Public and Private Domains of Cajun Women Musicians in Southwest Louisiana, by Lisa Richardson and Music of the Black Churches, by Joyce Marie Jackson. Write an essay comparing and contrasting the generational traditions in the two articles. Teachers, use Adaptation Strategies to adapt these adult-oriented resources to your students' reading level, if necessary. Use the Sources of Generational Music to compare what they learned from personal experiences and interviews versus what they learned from these articles. Venn Diagrams can be used both as a pre-writing tool and as a presentational tool for the final essay.

5. Write about or discuss learning music or a life lesson of your own based on one of the quotes below, taken from the introduction to this lesson.

He said, "Are you interested in learning how to play a fiddle?" I said, "Yes, I am." He said, "You quit doing what you're doing right now. You'll never learn nothing like that." So he taught me how to run the scale on the fiddle and went and bought me one--a little three-quarter size.

--Eddie Raxdale, Fiddler, Rapides Parish

It's better for you to just act natural than to pretend something you know you can't do, you know?

--Inez Catalon, Creole ballad singer, Kaplan, Vermilion Parish

I read music, but as Louis Armstrong said, "not enough to interfere with the enjoyment of my playing."

--Vic Tooker, Musician, Orleans Parish


Unit VI Resources

Unit VI Outline


National Endowment for
            the Arts.

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