Lily of the Valley

GRADE: 6-8, 9-12
SUBJECT: History, Culture, Band
GENRE: New Orleans Gospel, Traditional Gospel
TOPIC: Piano, Upright Bass, Trumpet, Clarinet, Trombone, Sousaphone, Drum, Marching Band
DISCIPLINE: Harmonizing Instruments, Composition and Theory Strand


In this lesson, students will learn the lyrics, song form, and instrument techniques for the traditional song, “Lily of the Valley.” Students will illustrate their understanding of the song with a performance.



  • Research and gather historical facts about the song, “Lily of the Valley.”
  • Analyze song form.
  • Read music.
  • Apply instrument techniques and strategies for learning a song.
  • Play traditional Brass Band hymns on an instrument.



National Core Arts Standards

Music – Harmonizing Instruments – Anchor Standard 1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Music – Composition and Theory – Anchor Standard 3 Refine and complete artistic work.
Music – Composition and Theory – Anchor Standard 4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.



Students should have familiarity with reading music. Teachers should review the lesson resources, media, and websites prior to launching the lesson. Students with disabilities may benefit from Adaptive Movements in this lesson.





  1. Display slide 3 of the presentation, Lily of the Valley, to listen to the song, “Lily of the Valley.” Ask students: What do you notice about the song? What instruments do you hear? What can you infer about the lyrics?
  2. Tell students “Lily of the Valley,” is a hymn written by Harry Dixon Loes (1892-1965). Some know the song by the title, “Everybody Don’t Know.” You will find “Lily of the Valley” in Hymnal books throughout the world and hear it in New Orleans as it is one of the most popular Gospel songs played by Jazz and Brass Bands. It is an example of early New Orleans Jazz music’s influenced by Gospel. Elements of this song consist of press rolls, four beats to the measure bass drum pattern, and also Call and Response. What’s unique about “Lily of the Valley” as in many other New Orleans marches is the implementation of syncopation in the drums (accenting the fourth beat in every other measure), horns freely interpreting the melody, and collective improvisation.
  3. Share with students that like many brass band songs, “Lily of the Valley” begins with a drum cadence to set the tempo and feel. Display slide 4 of the presentation to engage students in a listening session. Play each song and ask students to pay close attention to each recording.
  1. Have students discuss and compare each interpretation of the song. Ask: Which instrument is playing the lead/melody? Which instrument(s) are playing the chordal harmonies (banjo/guitar/piano/etc)? Which instruments are playing melodic harmonies? What is the time signature? Are there any notable differences when contrasting one recording from another? What emotions do you feel as a listener? What is driving the emotional change?



  1. Tell students they are going to learn the melody of the song, “Lily of the Valley.” Distribute the instrument-specific song guides below. Have students memorize the melody of the song. 

Clarinet Guide: “Lily of the Valley”
Drums Guide: “Lily of the Valley”
Piano Guide: “Lily of the Valley”
Sousaphone/Bass Guide: “Lily of the Valley”
Trombone Guide: “Lily of the Valley”
Trumpet Guide: “Lily of the Valley”

  1. Distribute the Lyrics: “Lily of the Valley” to students. Rehearse the verses and allow time for students to practice on their own.

Everybody don’t know, everybody don’t know.
Everybody don’t know, everybody don’t know.
Who Jesus is, who Jesus is.
Who Jesus is, who Jesus is.
Who Jesus is, who Jesus is.

Everybody don’t know, everybody don’t know.
Everybody don’t know, everybody don’t know.
Who Jesus is, who Jesus is.
Who Jesus is, who Jesus is.
Who Jesus is, who Jesus is.

He’s the lily of the valley,
He’s the bright and morning star.
He’s the fairest of ten thousand,
Everybody don’t know.

  1. Have students reference the instrument-specific song guides to learn and memorize the chord progressions.
  2. Tell students that the song form for “Lily of the Valley” is considered ABAB form/roadmap.
  3. Introduce students to the instrument-specific techniques for “Lily of the Valley.” Review the techniques with students and allow time to practice. 

Clarinet Techniques: “Lily of the Valley”
Drum Techniques: “Lily of the Valley”
Flute Techniques: “Lily of the Valley”
Piano Techniques: “Lily of the Valley”
Sousaphone/Bass Techniques: “Lily of the Valley”
Trombone Techniques: “Lily of the Valley”
Trumpet Techniques: “Lily of the Valley”

  1. Encourage students to independently transcribe solos related to their instrument. They can study the works of Traditional Early New Orleans musicians to grow and refine their craft as a soloist. Tell students they can incorporate early New Orleans musician’s ideas with their own to discover their unique identity.
  2. Once students know the melody and techniques, have students play along with the recording, “Lily of the Valley,” on slide 5. To extend, play the melody and exercise embellishment, adding flavor or creating your own interpretation of the melody.



  1. Assess students’ knowledge of the song, “Lily of the Valley.” Have students perform the song and demonstrate the New Orleans functions and techniques for their instrument.  Conclude the lesson with a written reflection. Ask: What factors influenced the historical and cultural tradition of the song, “Lily of the Valley” “What instrument techniques are applied to the song, “Lily of the Valley?”



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.

Louis Ford, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Content Curator
Meghan Swartz, Music Artist Consultant
Mark Braud, Music Artist Consultant
Meredith Sharpe, Adaptations Writer



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