In this lesson, students will learn the lyrics, song form, and instrument techniques for the traditional song “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.” Students will illustrate their understanding of the song with a performance.

Make Me a Pallet

GRADE: 9-12
SUBJECT: Band
GENRE: Traditional Jazz
TOPIC: Marching Band
DISCIPLINE: Harmonizing Instruments, Composition and Theory Strand

DESCRIPTION

In this lesson, students will learn the lyrics, song form, and instrument techniques for the traditional song “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.” Students will illustrate their understanding of the song with a performance.

 

OBJECTIVES

  • Students will be able to gather historical facts about the song “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.”
  • Students will be able to analyze song form.
  • Students will be able to read music.
  • Students will be able to apply instrument techniques and strategies for learning a song.
  • Students will be able to play traditional New Orleans jazz on an instrument.

 

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.

 

INSTRUCTOR NOTES

Students should have familiarity with reading music. Teachers should review the lesson resources, media, and websites prior to launching the lesson. 

 

MATERIALS

 

INTRODUCTION

  1. Display slide 3 of the presentation Make Me a Pallet on the Floor to listen to the song “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” by Bunk Johnson. Ask students: What can you infer about the lyrics? What is the mood of the song? Tell students the song is about a relationship between two people, and one of the partners is listing demands in order to stay in the home. 

 

  1. Tell students “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” is sung by many notable jazz musicians including Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Mama Yancey, and Sidney Bechet. The song can be categorized in the blues, jazz, and folk genres depending on geographics and/or band dynamics. W.C. Handy and Mississippi Hurt are noted as the original composers, however this can be disputed based on insufficient documentation. The original version is an instrumental bluesy song called “Atlanta Blues”. Students can hear versions of this song by Kid Ory and George Lewis.

 

  1. Engage students in a listening session with the song ”Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” and “Atlanta Blues.” Display slide 4 of the presentation to play the audio recordings.

 

  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?

 

APPLICATION

  1. Tell students they are going to learn the melody of the song “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.” Distribute the instrument-specific song guides below. Have students memorize the melody and chord progressions of the song. 

Clarinet Guide: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Drums Guide: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Piano Guide: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Sousaphone/Bass Guide: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Trombone Guide: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Trumpet Guide: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”

 

  1. Tell students that the song form for “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” is 16 bars.

 

  1. Introduce students to the instrument-specific techniques for “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.” Review the techniques with students and allow time to practice. 

Clarinet Techniques: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Drum Techniques: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Piano Techniques: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Sousaphone/Bass Techniques: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Trombone Techniques: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”
Trumpet Techniques: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor”

  1. Encourage students to independently transcribe solos related to their instruments. They can study the works of traditional early New Orleans musicians to grow and refine their craft as soloists. Tell students they can incorporate early New Orleans musicians’ ideas with their own to discover their unique identities.

 

  1. Once students know the melody and techniques, have students play along with the recording “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor” by Sidney Bechet on slide 5. To extend, play the melody and exercise embellishment, adding flavor or creating your own interpretation of the melody.

 

EVALUATION 

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

 

ATTRIBUTIONS

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 Producer
Meghan Swartz, Music Artist Consultant
Mark Braud, Music Artist Consultant

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