Freedom Songs with Imani Uzuri

Happy summer friends! I have been learning a lot and finding new resources in the past few weeks, and I just couldn’t wait until a new school year to share some of the things I’m learning with you! There are these amazing Musical Explorers lessons from Carnegie Hall that I wasn’t familiar with before, and I wanted to share one of them with you today. You can go to the link above to see exactly where all of this came from, but I’ve simplified it into a lesson you can do at home right here.

First, let’s meet Imani Uzuri:

Read about Imani Uzuri here, too!  Let’s learn her medley of 3 freedom songs:

Here are the rest of the lyrics to the 3 freedom songs Imani Uzuri used for the medley. Which lyrics did she use from each? Try singing the rest of the songs next.

You can create your own freedom song medley! Think about how Imani Uzuri created hers first. Look at the parts she used from each song. How did she use each part? How are these 3 songs similar? Why do they work well together? Choose your favorite part of each song-that could be just one line, a verse, whatever you want. Once you’ve chosen a favorite part for each song, consider how they should go together-what part makes sense to come first, second, third? Keep it simple and repeat the parts you have chosen more than once to combine them into your own freedom song. If you want to share your freedom song with me, you can email me a video of you singing it, or post it on ClassDojo!


4th and 5th graders, keep the learning going: Read this quick paragraph about Freedom singers from the 1960s. Do you recognize anyone? The 1960s happened more than 50 years ago, but continue to have an impact today. Can you find an older family member, friend of the family, or community member who remembers that time?

If you can, ask them about their memories. Were they in the United States? Did they take part in the Civil Rights Movement or in other protests that were happening? You can also ask your parents if they know any family stories about the 1960s.

Ask your family members what music from the 1960s they like and listen to. Listen to some of their favorite songs with them. Which songs do you like, and why?

This Land was Made For You and Me!

I know there have been a lot of things happening in the world right now, and sometimes it can be hard for kids to understand all of it. It’s often hard for adults to understand all of it too, so it’s ok if you feel overwhelmed. I wanted to start today by sharing a video my friend and fellow educator Mrs. Fritz made for her students. She teaches 1st grade, but I think that this video can help all of us as we try to process our feelings about the big things happening in our country.




Now, since this is a music blog after all, let’s learn to sing a protest song that has been around since the 1940s!

You may not even think of this one as a protest song, but the lyrics are all about making a country that belongs to all of us, and it was even used during the Civil Rights movement. Here is the original version of “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.


Woody Guthrie’s America had a lot of problems all at once, and it’s easy to think he must’ve felt a lot like many of us do right now. During Woody Guthrie’s life, there was a big problem in the Great Plains and the Midwest where the wasn’t enough rain for a long time. The soil on the ground blew around in huge dust clouds, destroying people’s homes and endangering their lives. These people tried to move away to California, but they were greeted at the California border by police officers who told them to go away. Meanwhile, in the South, police officers were enforcing unfair Jim Crow laws that kept black and brown people from sharing schools, bathrooms, water fountains, and everything else with white people. On top of all of that, America’s economy was in a Great Depression, which means there weren’t enough jobs for people, and many people were hungry and homeless. Woody Guthrie wrote this song as he traveled around the country seeing all of these big problems.

Woody Guthrie’s friend Pete Seeger brought the song to the Civil Rights Movement. He met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sang some protest songs for him. Dr. King was really struck by the song “We Shall Overcome,” which you can learn all about in my previous post on the song here! Pete Seeger joined Dr. King’s marches, and sang songs like this one to try to help share a message of fairness for everyone. Here’s Pete Seeger singing the song at the “We Are One” concert, celebrating President Obama’s inauguration as our first black president.


In music class, I like to do a comparing and contrasting listening activity about different versions of this song. Can you make a Venn diagram to compare one of the versions above with one of my favorite versions which I’ve posted below? What things are the same? What’s different? (think about the lyrics, the instruments, the style of the music, who is singing, etc.)

Here’s the Sharon Jones version we used on the Venn Diagrams above…it’s a personal favorite of mine and the students can never hold still when we hear it!

Let’s Make/Play a Music Game!

Hi guys! Have you tried any homemade music games since we’ve been apart? For our music stations at school, I like to use these awesome games from Susan Paradis’s blog. If you have a printer at home, you can print and cut out the game pieces yourself to play at home! If you don’t have access to a printer, it’s easy enough to make your own music game at home.

You can use index cards or cut a sheet of paper into squares or rectangles to make simple flashcards. Then, you only need to write on one side of your flashcards to make this rhythm memory game, or you could create your own treble clef flashcards with a note on one side and its letter name on the other for these notes. All of my Fisher students know how intense the flashcard guessing game gets at school!

Note Placement | The Art Of Reading Music

Or, you can try to create your own version of one of these music games at home!

Let’s Experiment with Chrome Music Lab!

Today is the last day for Elementary Chromebook distribution, so I wanted to remind everyone about one of my very favorite resources on my links tab! Today, I hope you’ll take some time to play with Chrome Music Lab. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like when you go to the site:chromemusiclab


We usually experiment with this site during our 5th grade science of sound unit, but it’s really fun for all ages. Try out all of the different apps and see which one you like best!

Let’s Read a Funny Story!

Hi guys! I miss laughing with you, so I grabbed one of my favorite funny books to read with you today. (I know it looks like I didn’t brush my hair, but I promise I did lol. I’ve been out enjoy the beautiful weather in my garden this morning, do you love the hot weather as much as I do?)

I hope your day is full of imagination and improvisation!

Let’s Sing “This Old Man!”

Yesterday, I had the fun chance to be Ms. Wiederkehr’s Monday mystery reader! Reading the book inspired today’s post, you’ll see why when you check out the video here:

Now for the song…can you listen once, then make a list of the numbers and the rhyming words that go with them from memory? Then, try singing it!

Alright, now back to those jazz musicians I was talking about in the book! If you want to learn about the real people we read about, here are the musicians that go with each number, and some links to learn more:

  1. Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong
  2. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
  3. Luciano “Chano” Pozo y Gonzalez
    • For my big kids, learn about Chano Pozo’s home-Havana, Cuba
  4. Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington
  5. Charlie “Bird” Parker
  6. Art “Bu” Blakey
  7. John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie
  8. Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller His nickname always makes us giggle! You might recognize the waiter in that clip from’s another clip from the movie that will help. Can you guess who it is now?
  9. Charles “Baron” Mingus

If you want to learn more about jazz history, I really like this playlist of jazz history videos to help you dig a little deeper.

Let’s Look at Melodic Direction!

Hi guys! It was so exciting to see so many Fisher students at our Chromebook distribution yesterday! It’s going to make it so much easier to complete our RPS@Home lessons, and access lots of other educational resources online! Today, I’d like for you to learn a little bit about how melodies can move in music. Melodies can make lots of different shapes. Use your finger to point along with the different shapes in this video. Make sure your finger moves from left to right, because we read melodies the same way we read words in sentences, left to right.

Now that you’ve got the idea, let’s practice singing some melodies with different kinds of movement. I love this silly video to practice, and the dog in it is so cute!

Now, when you listen to music today, can you listen for the direction the notes are moving? I post a lot of listening maps that can help you see the direction while you hear it, so you might try watching these first. Then, as you listen to your favorite kind of music today, as you hear songs on your video games, Youtube videos, tv shows, or movies, see if you can listen closely and draw the shape of the song in the air with your finger. As you watch these listening maps, practice showing the shapes with a finger.

And a fun one for our composer of the month!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Hi friends! It is too beautiful outside to hang out indoors today! It’s supposed to be cool and rainy for the next couple of days, so I hope you’ll spend as much time outside as you can. I am typing this from my backyard right now, and this breeze would be perfect for flying a kite. When you come inside to cool off, try learning to sing the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite!”

If you haven’t watched the original Mary Poppins movie, maybe you could do that on one of these upcoming rainy days! Here are the song lyrics so you can sing along…

Think about how this song is organized, what happens first? Next? Then?

I hear Verse #1, then a chorus or refrain that will be repeated again later. Next, I hear verse #2, followed by an instrumental interlude. Then, I hear one last chorus or refrain to end the song. Can you make up your own dance moves to show how the song is organized? Remember that is called the song’s FORM.

After singing and dancing, make your own homemade kite to fly today. You can make kites from lots of different things around your house, for example, a garbage bag, paper, newspaper, or whatever other creative ideas you can come up with yourself!

May’s Composer of the Month!

Hi guys! We made it to May! Today, take a look at May’s composer of the month, Ludwig von Beethoven. Be sure to color his picture in your interactive music notebook if you are in K-2nd grade, or you can complete a listening reflection about this piece in your notebook if you’re in 3rd-5th grade.

Here are the 4 facts we would’ve read about him this month:

  1. Beethoven was a composer and pianist born in Bonn, Germany. His dad was very strict, and made Beethoven wake up in the middle of the night to practice music.
  2. Beethoven moved to Vienna, Austria in his 20s, where he became one of the first composers to make a living without working for the church or for royalty.
  3. Beethoven wrote symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and just one opera.
  4. Beethoven began to lose his hearing in his 30s. He wrote some of his most famous pieces when he was almost totally deaf, including his 9th symphony.

Check out this neat listening map that goes with Beethoven’s 9th:

And for my big kids, I can just hear all the questions you have about him bubbling up! This video will give you a little more information about him.

The incredible Kanneh Mason family performed a little bit of Beethoven on a Facebook live concert at home last month, check this out and get inspired to make some music with your family, too!