Grade: Middle
Subject: Music

#1642. Looking at the Old South: Music and Culture

Music, level: Middle
Posted Fri Mar 24 10:11:36 PST 2000 by Virginia Martin (
Ketron Middle School, Sullivan County, TN
Materials Required: reference materials, internet access, tape/cd player
Activity Time: 6 class periods
Concepts Taught: music in society and culture

Tennessee Curriculum Standard for Music 6-8: Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

Objective: Aurally recognize the moods and stories conveyed by the design of selected examples of program music and describe them in terms of expressive qualities.

Based James W. Lane's unit "Re-examining the Old South" at

Teacher preparation: check to be sure all URL's still work; reserve research time with library media center; reserve computer lab.

Days 1-2: Divide students into groups of 4-5. Explain that at the end of the unit, each group will be responsible for a class presentation related to one of the topics covered in the unit: Life in the Old South, Music of the Civil War, The Underground Railroad, "Following the Drinking Gourd", "Lincoln Freed Me Today" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Each individual will also submit a class journal with a summary paragraph of what was learned from each day's lesson. Have students do research on life in the pre-Civil War South using library and Internet resources.

Internet Resources:

Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century:

The Old Plantation: How We Lived in Great House and Cabin Before the War:

Ferry Hill Plantation Journal: January 4, 1838-January 15, 1839:

A Grandmother's Recollections of Dixie:

Memories of Childhood's Slavery Days

(There are many others at the UNC metalab. Visit the root site for a complete list.)

Day 3: If you can obtain a copy of Joan Baez's album "Blessed Are...", play the song "Lincoln Freed Me Today". Distribute copies of the lyrics for class discussion of the feelings of the slave involved.

Day 4: Give students the title "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and have them write down what they think the song would be about. Have students go to the Internet site to listen to the song and read the lyrics. Discuss student reactions to the song and the people in it.

Day 5: Music of the Civil War: "Follow the Drinking Gourd" : listen to song, read lyrics and study meaning behind them.

Internet Resources:

Day 6: Group presentations

Evaulation: 60% group presentation
40% daily journal