August 25th, 2005
Hank Williams: Still Singing After All These Years
Procedures for Teachers

Prep

Media Components

Computer Resources:

  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM and/or Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM.

Bookmarked sites:

Bookmark the following sites:

Materials:

Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • Television and VCR
  • Copy of American Master’s program “Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues”
  • Poster paper
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Steps:

Before students watch Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues,” they will activate their background knowledge by predicting answers to true or false questions about country music, as well as conducting an Internet hunt to gather information about the history of country music.

Activity One

1. Pass out the fact sheet to the class. Tell students to circle true or false for each statement, and write a reason for their answer. After all students have finished, give and discuss the correct answer for each question.

  • Fact One

    The roots of country music originated in Texas.
    False – The roots of country music originated in the folk traditions of the British Isles.

  • Fact Two

    In America, country music’s roots became entangled with the music of immigrants and African slaves.
    True

  • Fact Three

    Country music fans drink more beer than the average American.
    False – they drink slightly less beer than the average American.

  • Fact Four

    More women listen to country music stations than do men.
    True – Women account for 53 percent of the total audience.

  • Fact Five

    The first Black star on the Grand Old Opry appeared on the stage in 1950.
    False – DeFord Bailey was the first Black star on Grand Ole Opry, playing the harmonica, banjo and guitar from 1926 to 1941.

  • Fact Six

    Country music format ranks fifth among 18-34 year old listeners.
    False – The country music format ranks third among 18-34 year olds.

Activity Two

1. Send students on a hunt to gather three pieces of information on the history of country music. The following websites provide information on the topic:

2. Provide time for students to share their information with the entire class.

Learning Activities:

Teacher Note – Before watching the program, divide a large piece of paper into six sections and label each section with one of these headings: childhood, musical style and accomplishments, personal relationships, career information, physical and emotional challenges, and miscellaneous facts. Tell students to record information from the program under the corresponding categories.

Activity One

In this activity, students will analyze the lyrics of Hank Williams’ songs to help gain an understanding of how he used music to express his feelings and tell a story.

Teacher Note: If you have access to Hank Williams’ tapes or compact disks, you may use them for this activity. If you don’t have recordings, students may access Hank Williams’ songs on the official Hank Williams’ website at http://www.hankwilliams.com/alone_2.html.

1. Involve students in a discussion about how music can help to express our emotions and tell a story. Ask students to share examples from their own experiences with music. Discuss the section of the program where people said that all you had to do was listen to Hank Williams’ music to know who he was.

2. Tell students that they are going to analyze the lyrics of Hank Williams’ songs, looking for the thoughts, images, and feelings that show the kind of person Hank Williams was. Pass out the student organizer and ask students to record information as they listen to the songs. Play Hank William’s songs from compact disks or from the Hank Williams website for students.

3. Send students to the following websites to gather information about Hank Williams’ life:

Tell students to record the information in the organizer.

4. Explain to students that they are going to use the information, images and feelings that they collected in the organizer to write a bio poem that captures the essence of the legendary Hank Williams.

5. The following is a set of directions that may be used to create the bio poems:

  • Spell out Hank Williams’ name either vertically or horizontally on a piece of paper.
  • Write a word or phrase after each letter that connects to Hank William’s life or his music.
  • On a separate piece of paper, write an explanation of why you included the word or phrase for each letter.
  • Find at least three visuals and display them on the poem paper. (Google is a good place to find images of Hank Williams. Go to www.google.com, click on the “Images” button and type Hank Williams into the search box.)

6. Display the poems in the classroom.

Activity Two

In this activity, students will analyze the reasons for Hank Williams’ popularity nearly half a century after his death.

1. Send students to the Montgomery Advertiser website to read Rick Harmon’s “Williams’ Art Was Original, his Influence is Universal” article. This article can be found at this web address: http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/hank_williams/. Call students’ attention to the fact that Hank Williams has been dead for over forty years, but his music still resonates with people. Discuss the reasons why Hank Williams is considered to be a legend.

2. Hang a large piece of paper on the chalkboard. Write the words “Hank, We Can’t Help it if We’re Still in Love With You” on the paper.

3. Explain to students that they are going to listen to and/or read lyrics to Hank Williams’ songs and select one or two lyrics that they can relate to on a personal level. Have the students write the lyrics on the sheet of paper.

4. After all of the students have written their selected lyrics on the paper, provide time for students to share their lyrics and to explain why a lyric written over forty years ago relates to their life at this point in time.

Homework assignment
Ask students to reflect on which current-day musician will most likely be popular forty-plus years after his or her death. Tell them to give their reasons for their choice and to include a few song lyrics that they think will resonate with people a half a century from now. Provide time for students to share this assignment with the entire class.

Extension Activities:

Discuss how Hank Williams got many ideas for his songs, such as “Move it on Over” from comic books. Pass out comic books to the class and have students write a song based on the comic book.

Critical Thinking Questions:

Hank Williams expressed his emotions through his words and music. How do classical or jazz musician express their thoughts and emotions without using words?

In what ways do you think Hank Williams’ health and personal life impacted his music?

What stereotypes are sometimes attached to people who listen to country and western, classical, jazz, polka, or hip hop music?

Do you think these stereotypes are accurate? Explain.

  • Kevin Unterkofler

    Bravo! You are a man after my own heart, Professor!

Inside This Lesson

Salinger

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