MardiGrasMambo-Hero (2)

Mardi Gras Mambo

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


Students will learn the song “Mardi Gras Mambo,” one of six lessons in the New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Unit. Students will learn about the lives and careers of some of the major players from this era. Students will identify parts of the song, clap on the mambo beat, and demonstrate with a group vocal performance.



  • Analyze the lyrics to “Mardi Gras Mambo.” 
  • Sing the lyrics of “Mardi Gras Mambo.”
  • Apply the unique and special rhythms of a song.
  • Identify parts of a song, such as verses and choruses. 
  • Identify chord structures and how combinations of chords are building blocks that constitute sections of songs. 
  • Play chord changes using Orff instruments.



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.



This unit could be used by a vocal or music teacher, or an educator integrating music into general instruction. The teacher should familiarize themselves with the tune and opening fanfare of the song “Mardi Gras Mambo.” Teachers should review the history of Carnival music and the media resources in the lesson prior to teaching. 





  1. Display slides 3 and 4 of the presentation Mardi Gras Mambo to observe Carnival parade pictures while listening to The Hawketts, “Mardi Gras Mambo.” Ask students: What do you notice/wonder about the photographs? What do you notice/wonder about the song? Tell students they are looking at pictures of different Carnival parades in New Orleans. These parades are part of Carnival season, which begins on January 6th, known as 12th Night, and culminates on Mardi Gras day.


  1. Tell students they were listening to the song “Mardi Gras Mambo.” Show students the video About Mardi Gras Mambo on slide 5 to learn more about The Hawketts and Art Neville. This song is played during Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras is a celebration that is part of the calendar in the Roman Catholic church. Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout the world. 


  1. Have students write this year’s date on a piece of paper or dry-erase board. Below it, have them write the year 1954. Tell students to subtract 1954 from this year’s date. Tell students that this is how many years old this song is. Yet the song is sung at Mardi Gras every year. Ask students: Can you think of any old songs that are sung on holidays every year?



  1. Distribute the Lyrics: “Mardi Gras Mambo” lyrics to students. Discuss lyrics and how the song is arranged to amplify the lyrics. Discuss with students the introduction of the song. Here is a sax intro followed by a vocal “hunh”. Model the “hunh” as the video is being watched by students. Tell students a fanfare is a blast from a horn to let people know that a celebration or a song is about to begin. Sing or play on any pitched instrument the fanfare for Mardi Gras Mambo. Followed by a cheer of “hunh!”  This is a call and response. When the teacher sings [notes], the students say “hunh!”


  1. Practice the lyrics with students using the Echo Activity strategy on slide 7. Students will sing the song with the teacher who will accompany the students with a piano, guitar, or the Mardi Gras Mambo – Instrument video on slide 8. 


  1. Show the Mambo Beat video on slide 9 and clap the mambo beat with students. Dividing a measure into 8th notes (1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &) the mambo beat emphasizes 1, 2 & and 4. Allow time for students to practice the mambo beat.


  1. Tell students they will now learn to identify song parts, chorus, and verse. Reference the handout “Charting Songs” to review the definitions of key elements of the song. In whole group, identify the song parts as “Mardi Gras Mambo” plays. Play the Mardi Gras Mambo – Vocal video on slide 10. Pause the song to discuss parts with students. Display slide 11 to show the parts of the song. 

Basic Tune Chart for Mardi Gras Mambo

        • Intro: Sax, “hunh!”
        • 1st Verse: “Down in New Orleans …”
        • 1st Chorus : “The Mardi Gras Mambo …”
        • 2nd Verse: “In Gert Town …
        • 2nd Chorus: “The Mardi Gras Mambo …”
        • 3rd Verse: Sax solo 
        • 3rd Chorus: Sax solo
        • 4th Verse: “Down In New Orleans …”
        • 4th Chorus: “The Mardi Gras Mambo …”


  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. Perform the song as an ensemble, singing on the vocal parts and clapping the mambo beat when the sax solo takes place.


  1. Enrichment: To extend learning for students, play the chord changes in rhythm on basic pitched instruments, boomwhackers, or Orff instruments. Reference the chord chart for “Mardi Gras Mambo.”



  1. Assess students’ knowledge of the song, “Mardi Gras Mambo,” with a written reflection. Ask students. What is Carnival season and what other seasons have a special set of songs? Evaluate students’ knowledge of the steady beat and signature rhythm by having one group clap steady beat while another group claps the mambo beat. Assess students’ 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 Producer



Animated GIFs