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Singing Games of Senatobia

Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8

Selection: This Little Light of Mine
Selections: Four Children's Songs, Senatobia II, Tracks: Cornbread Rough/Tough (A), Bumblebee (B), Sally Go Round the Sunshine (C), Red Bird (D)
Recorded: Senatobia, Mississippi, September 25, 1959
Performers: Bobby Jean Hemphill, Ruby Hemphill, Lucille Rice

Activity 1: Voicing and Moving the Music of Children (Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8)

1.Listen to four children's singing games in succession, directing student attention to the songs with these questions:

* How are these songs vocalized? Which ones are sung or chanted?
* Are any of these songs familiar to you?
* When you perform these songs, do you add actions, or games or dances?
* What makes these songs "children's songs"? (The playful and gameful song texts, the sounds of children's voices speaking and singing)

2.Listen in order to learn the individual songs. Follow a sequence that includes

* Keeping the underlying beat by patting, or alternating between patting and clapping
* "Silently singing (or chanting)" the song while keeping the beat
* Filling in the next line, which requires the teacher's stopping the recording while the singing (or chanting is continued "live") and then starting up the recording again to "check ourselves".

3. Draw attention to ways in which children typically perform songs and chants: by jumping rope, clapping hands with partners, passing objects (stones, sticks, balls, stuffed animals) inside a circle, dancing. Suggestions for these musical selections follow, and can be developed through variation or re-design by students.

(A) Jump rope to the steady beat while chanting, allowing the beat to sound as the rope touches the ground
(B) Form a circle, holding hands with arms up and swinging. While repeating the chant, one person is in the center tries to leave the circle when the arms of two individuals are upswung.
(C) Travel in a snaking line while holding hands, using a bouncing step to the steady beat, and on "oh yahk-kah boom" jump two times in place. After two revolutions, the front person who has led the line goes to the back and a new person leads the direction of the line.
(D) In partners facing one another, clap this percussive ostinato while chanting.
Beat 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Move Pat Both Hands To Lap Clap Own Hands Clap P's RHClap Own HandsClap P's LHClap Own Hands Clap P's Both HandsClap Own Hands

*[Note: P=Partner, RH=Right Hand, LH=Left Hand)

Activity 2: Topics of Children's Interests (K-2, 3-5, 6-8)

1. Listen for these excerpts of the texts of children's songs and chants, and note especially the topics they express (cornbread, bumblebees, rain, moon- and sun-shine)—all components of children's everyday life, growing up in the late 1950s in a small town in the northern Mississippi hill country. Discuss how everyday experiences have changed or stayed the same

(A)"I went upstairs to make-a my bed, I bumped my head on a piece of cornbread."
(B)"Bumblebee bumblebee stang me, Can't get out of here. (This place, this place, this place)"
(C)"Sally go round the moonshine, Sally go round the sun (or moon) shine
Early afternoon, oh yahk-kah boom."
(D)"It ain't gonna rain, it ain't gonna rain no more. Rain last night and the night before.
It ain't gonna rain, It ain't gonna no more. Hah-hah."

2. Find other songs and chants of children to listen to (from Como, Senatobia, and elsewhere in the travels of Alan Lomax to the Southern U.S. in 1959 and 1960. Create a list of the topics that children were expressing at that time and place, and categorize them by topic (for example, family, friends, weather, animals and insects, household items, transportation).

3. Brainstorm the playground, schoolyard, scout, club, sleep-over, and camp songs that are child-originated (not composed, direct replications of media songs, or in-school songs). What are the topics of these songs and chants, and do they indicate whether the songs are old or newly invented?

4. Interview and record the remembered songs and chants of adults who were children decades ago. What do these songs say about topics of children's interests then and now.


Lesson plan by Patricia Shehan Campbell

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