Time Allotment: 20 minutes
1. Ask the students to define the term “the blues” by brainstorming ideas as a group and recording them on the board/overhead.
2. After all ideas have been listed, share some specific information about blues music by reading and distributing the essay “What Is the Blues?” available at http://www.pbs.org/theblues/classroom/essaysblues.html, and the essay “Chicago Blues,” available at http://www.pbs.org/gperf/shows/crossroads2/essay1.html. Discuss the characteristics of blues music and its origins as well as why Chicago is known as the blues capital. Take time to list some of the key people associated with the blues described in each essay.
Time Allotment: 30-45 minutes
1. Introduce ERIC CLAPTON CROSSROADS GUITAR FESTIVAL CHICAGO by explaining to the students that they will be viewing a program that showcases some of the world’s best guitarists performing classic blues selections. Refer them to the essay “Guitar Evolution,” available at http://www.pbs.org/gperf/shows/guitargods/essay1.html to learn more about the history of the guitar and the role it played in blues music and rock ‘n’ roll.
2. Distribute the Viewing Guide and have the students read the directions before they watch the film excerpts. Explain that the goal is for them to see how the blues can be performed in a variety of ways and to compare and contrast the varying styles. (Note to teachers: On the Viewing Guide, performers are listed in order of their appearance in the program. As you preview the program, make notes about the approximate start and end times of each performance to make locating them easier when you play the excerpts.)
3. After the students have watched the program excerpts and completed the Viewing Guide, discuss each of the performances included in it. The students should be able to note specific ways that the performances are alike and different.
Time Allotment: 20 minutes
1. Based on what they have learned from reading the essays in Step 2 of the Introductory Activities and by watching the program, have the students participate in a final class discussion or generate a short written response to topics such as:
- You have seen examples of traditional blues music as well as the way the blues have been interpreted by modern artists. Discuss the role of the blues in today’s popular music.
- You have learned that the blues is an uniquely American art form and that in the 1960s, it was embraced by European bands and experienced a revival through new sounds brought here by British performers like Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. Discuss how the electric guitar and guitarists such as Clapton and Jeff Beck helped change the blues.
1. Encourage the students to learn more about the history of the blues and to create a multimedia project based on their research, such as an illustrated timeline. They can include pictures of important blues artists and audio clips of their signature songs as part of their presentation.
2. Have the students work in small groups to learn a traditional blues song or write their own blues song using traditional characteristics of the genre, which they can then perform for the class.