Blues Clues: Mississippi Teacher Chevonne Dixon Uses the Delta Sound for Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
There is perhaps nothing more an American invention than the blues. And down in Mississippi, an entire generation of music and musicians were inspired by the Delta sound of the early 1900s.
British rock bands like the Rolling Stones came into prominence by covering Muddy Waters songs--eventually pulling their name from a song of his--and incorporating blues licks into their louder music.
Robert Johnson, the emblematic blues musician who allegedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads on Highway 61, pioneered our American soundtrack with gut-wrenching lyrics and his unique picking style.
The blues, nowadays, can be tailored to fit elementary ed, too.
Fourth graders at Tunica Elementary in Mississippi are being taught the blues to learn about rhyme and rhythm, essentials for exploring young creative minds.
Teacher Chevonne Dixon intertwines the genre with science, math, English and social studies. Her class encourages students to create blues tunes about the weather, even the trials of being in the fourth grade.
"It makes them recall information, especially with that slow, melodic sound," Dixon said in an interview with the Washington Post.
While the present lesson plan hones in on blues music from an older Mississippi, one centered on cotton-ginning and the like, the curriculum will take a most important turn as Dixon sets her sights on one of the most important blues topics: civil rights.
Chevonne Dixon, then, will be one of the few teachers implementing a new lesson plan (concordant still with Mark Malone's "Blues Trail Curriculum") focusing on what we all should this time of year: Feburary's Black History Month.
With just a few more days left in January, here he is, in all his glory...the late Robert Johnson.