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. 



  • Analyze the lyrics to “Blue Monday.” 
  • Sing the lyrics of “Blue Monday.”
  • Apply the unique and special rhythms of a song.
  • Retell facts about Fats Domino. 
  • Clap on the strong beat.



National Core Arts Standards

Music Anchor Standard 4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
Music Anchor Standard 7 Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Common Core State Standards

RL.K.4 – 5.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Social-Emotional Growth Skills

  • Students will identify their emotions and those of Fats Domino during the workweek described in Blue Monday.
  • Students will show music impulse control by working with the strong beats in Blue Monday.
  • Note: Social and Emotional Artistic Learning (SEAL) soundbites are noted in the lesson. Teachers can optionally engage students in small conversations about these additional social-emotional growth skills.



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 “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. Distribute the Blue Monday Emotion Chart and ask students to jot down how they feel on most or all days of the week in the appropriate boxes. Students can write a word or phrase, or add in an emoji or a quick drawing to illustrate the emotion. (Ready to take it further? Have students dramatize the feelings they’ve added to the chart. They can use facial expressions and whole body drama poses. Consider creating a set of tableaux of these emotions as you listen and respond to the song and the lyrics!)


  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. After listening to and reading the lyrics of “Blue Monday,” have students fill out the rest of the Blue Monday Emotion Chart describing how Fats Domino feels by adding emotion words, illustrations and emojis to his row as well. Ask students, How can lyrics to a song relate to our emotions? “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. Students can denote this on their paper with rhythm notation or with color. In the Blue Monday Emotion Chart, students can note how the beat and rhythm changes when the song goes from the workweek to the weekend with musical notation or another means of symbolizing the rhythmic patterns and changes.


  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 “front man.” Dave Bartholomew was a trumpet player from New Orleans. Dave was also a songwriter, a record producer and a bandleader. Both men grew up playing traditional New Orleans Jazz and Blues music. Together, they combined the raw Blues and sophisticated Jazz to create a new music genre 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. *SEAL Soundbite – The collaboration between Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew is a great example of teamwork and the value of building relationship skills as you go through the creative process. Ask: Do you think they always worked smoothly together? How do you think they worked through tough times or times when they disagreed on something? How did working through these conflicts build their relationship?



  1. Distribute the “Blue Monday” Lyrics 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. *SEAL Soundbite – Working a job takes a lot of self-management skills like goal-setting, motivation, stress management and organization skills. How do you think Fats Domino got himself through the workweek so that he could enjoy the weekend? What do you do to help yourself get through the work/school week?


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


  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. *SEAL Soundbite: It takes a lot of discipline and practice to play a polyrhythm! Try it. (Have students try the polyrhythm Davis Rogan played on the piano by tapping their hands on their laps.) What do you think it would take for you to master that polyrhythm? (Optional) At this point, students can further denote the differences in rhythm found for Monday – Friday vs the weekend on their Blue Monday Emotions Chart.


  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 or oral exit ticket asking the following questions: Who is Fats Domino? How do the lyrics and/or rhythm show the character/singer’s feeling about the workweek?


  1. Assess students’ ability to clap on the strong beat of the song using a 3,2,1 rating scale:
            • 3: Student shows good impulse control with steady, solid clapping on beat 2 and 4
            • 2: Student has some uneasiness in their clapping. Student may miss a beat.
            • 1: Student has difficulty clapping on the strong beats.



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
Elizabeth Peterson, Social and Emotional Artistic Learning (SEAL) Consultant



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