Blue Monday

GRADE: K-2, 3-5
SUBJECT: Music, History, Culture
GENRE: New Orleans Rhythm and Blues
TOPIC: Polyrhythm, Strong Beat
DISCIPLINE: Music General


In this lesson, students will learn the song “Blue Monday”, one of six lessons in the New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Unit. Students will recognize and clap on the strong beat and identify the parts of the song. Students will demonstrate with a group vocal performance. For enrichment, students will perform horn parts on Orff instruments. Students will perform baritone sax solos on Orff instruments or recorders. 



  • Students will be able to analyze the lyrics to “Blue Monday.” 
  • Students will be able to sing the lyrics of “Blue Monday.”
  • Students will be able to apply the unique and special rhythms of a song.
  • Students will be able to identify parts of a song, such as verses and choruses. 
  • Students will be able to identify chord structures and how combinations of chords are building blocks that comprise sections of songs. 
  • Students will be able to play chord changes using basic pitched instruments.
  • Students will be able to play horn parts using basic pitched instruments or recorders.
  • Students will be able to play baritone saxophone solo using basic pitched instruments or recorders. 



National Core Arts Standards

MU:Cr1.1.K.b With guidance, generate musical ideas (such as movements or motives).
MU:Cr1.1.1.b With limited guidance, generate musical ideas in multiple tonalities (such as major and minor) and meters (such as duple and triple).
MU: Cr1.1.2.b Generate musical patterns and ideas within the context of a given tonality (such as major and minor) and meter (such as duple and triple).
MU:Cr1.1.3.b Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms and melodies) within a given tonality and/or meter.
MU:Cr1.1.4.b Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms, melodies, and simple accompaniment patterns) within related tonalities (such as major and minor) and meters.
MU:Cr1.1.5.b Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms, melodies, and accompaniment patterns) within specific related tonalities, meters, and simple chord changes.

Common Core State Standards

RL.K.4 Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
RL.1.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
RL.4.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
RL.5.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.



Teachers should be familiar with the history and life of Fats Domino and the media resources in the lesson prior to teaching. Review the Music and Mindfulness Lesson Adaptations resource to better serve students with disabilities. Students with disabilities may benefit from Adaptive Movements in this lesson.





  1. Introduce the “Blue Monday” to students by asking them how they feel on Mondays. Ask students: How do you feel on Monday? (responses may vary) How do you feel on Friday? (responses may vary)
  1. Display slide 3 of the presentation, Blue Monday, to play Fats Domino’s 1987 live performance, “Blue Monday” Austin City Limits Music Festival. Ask students to think about the lyrics and beat. After listening to the song, tell students that although the song describes the woes of a working stiff, the quotidian schedule of the workweek is already deeply ingrained in our minds. We can all relate to a feeling of trepidation at the beginning of the work or school week, and the happiness we feel on the weekend.
  1. Ask students, How can lyrics to a song relate to our emotions? Tell students that “Blue Monday” can teach us how lyrics convey common emotions, how we can articulate our emotions when we sing the lyrics, and how the arrangement and playing can accentuate our feelings. When the song reaches the chorus, “Saturday morning,” the band plays a triplet pattern creating excitement that we have reached the weekend.
  1. Display slide 4 of the presentation, Blue Monday. Play the video, Rhythm and Blues: “Blue Monday” to introduce Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew and listen to another “Blue Monday”  performance by Preservation Hall musicians, Davis Rogan (piano/vocals), Shannon Powell (drums), Roger Lewis (baritone saxophone), Louis Ford (tenor saxophone), Clint Maedgen (tenor saxophone), Haruka Kikuchi (trombone), Branden Lewis (trumpet), and Mark Brooks (bass).
  1. Share the handout, About Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, with students to build their background knowledge of these two Rock and Roll pioneers.
  1. Share with students that Fats Domino was a piano player from New Orleans. He was also a charming and gifted lead singer, he was what musicians call the “frontman.” Dave Bartholomew was a trumpet player from New Orleans. Dave was also a songwriter, record producer, and bandleader. Both men grew up playing traditional New Orleans Jazz and Blues music. Together, they combined the raw Blues and sophisticated Jazz to create new music, called Rock and Roll. Fats Domino broke the color barrier in pop music as the first African American musician to have a song on the pop charts. The team of Domino and Bartholomew sold over 65 million records.



  1. Distribute the Lyrics: “Blue Monday” to students. Discuss the lyrics and how the song is arranged to amplify the lyrics. Tell students that “Blue Monday” is a song about the days of the week from the perspective of a working man. Tell students they are on the same schedule as the working man in the song, maybe they share some of the feelings or sentiments expressed by the singer.
  1. Display slide 6 of the presentation, Blue Monday, to review the echo strategy.  Practice the lyrics with students by following the Echo Activity: “Blue Monday” instructions. Students will sing the song with the teacher who will accompany the students with a piano, guitar, or the video on slide 7, Rhythm and Blues: “Blue Monday.”
  1. Tell students they will now learn to identify song parts, chorus, and verse. Display slide 8 of the presentation, Blue Monday, to review the basic tune chart. Identify the song parts of “Blue Monday” as the song plays. Pause the song to discuss parts with students.

1st Verse: “Blue Monday …”
Chorus: “Saturday Morning …”
Sax Solo: Verse form abbreviated.
Chorus: “Blue Monday …”

  1. After listening and identifying the parts, ask students: How is the song put together? What are the building blocks of a song? Tell students that songs are built on repeating chord structures.
  1. Display slide 9 of the presentation, Blue Monday, to watch the video, Rhythm & Blues: Strong Beat and Polyrhythm. Shannon Powell and Davis Rogan discuss the concept of strong beat and clapping on the 2 & 4. Find the pulse and identify strong beats. Ask students to find the steady beat and identify if one beat is stronger than another.
  1. Perform the song as an ensemble, singing on the vocal parts and clapping the strong beat when the sax solo takes place.
  1. Enrichment: To extend learning for students, play horn parts and sax solo using recorders or Orff instruments. Distribute the handouts for C Instruments: “Blue Monday” or Chromatic Instruments: “Blue Monday” if available.



  1. Assess students’ knowledge of the song, “Blue Monday,” with a written reflection. Ask students. Who is Fats Domino? How can words and music work together to show feelings?  Evaluate students’ knowledge of clapping on the strong beat and their mastery of the lyrics.



Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.

Davis Rogan, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Content Curator
Meghan Swartz, Music Artist Consultant
Mark Braud, Music Artist Consultant
Meredith Sharpe, Adaptations Writer
Ashley Bell, Adaptations Writer



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