On April 20th, 2012, over 100 McNair students from Mrs. Mizanin's 7th grade Language Arts classes celebrated National Poetry Month by holding a live blues performance and workshop with local blues musician, David Kimbrough, Jr. The school coordinated this event by working in partnership with the Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas, a nonprofit organization working to foster the development in the community of an appreciation of all types of blues music. Click here
to see photos from the workshop.
The students had been studying poetry and working to strengthen their understanding of figurative language and storytelling by discovering these concepts through blues music and poetry. Students listened to and analyzed lyrics from various blues artists like Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy and B.B. King, and read and discussed the history of blues by reading a nonfiction article entitled, "What is the Blues?". Students also studied and compared blues poetry by Langston Hughes to popular blues song lyrics, before students worked to create their own blues poems by the end of the week. Mrs. Mizanin and select student volunteers stepped up to the microphone to recite original blues verses, while David Kimbrough Jr. accompanied them on his guitar.
Here's what some McNair students and their teacher are saying about this event:
" The best part of this experience was that we got to experience blues first hand and hear it live!" - Justin Bredeson, 7th grader
"I learned that I like listening to blues music and that the blues is a fun way to complain about things. Writing a blues poem was challenging, but fun! David Kimbrough, Jr. was really cool and a great musician!"- Courtney Cross, 7th grader
"I really enjoyed expressing myself in a new way and discovering a style of music I never knew I would like so much! This brought out the best of the blues from our classmates and we all had a lot of fun."- Olivia Wales, 7th grader
"I think it was fun that my friend and I got to express our feelings about school and put them into a song and perform with a real bluesman. I was actually a songwriter and this inspired me!"- Christian Kumwenda, 7th grader
"As a language arts teacher, I want to share poetry with students and show them how cool it can be. Using the blues as a resource has been a great way to engage kids. After all...what's cooler than the blues?"--Mrs. Mizanin