A collage showing a woman adding a quilting piece to a community quilt.

Musical Heritage Story Quilt

GRADE: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
SUBJECT: Music, History, Culture
TOPIC: Musical Heritage
DISCIPLINE: Music General


In this community building lesson, students and teachers of all ages will explore their musical heritage and the impact of intergenerational relationships. They will discover Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and Weedie Braimah’s musical heritage, then collectively design a musical heritage story quilt.



  • Discuss the term musical heritage
  • Recall significant musical moments, people, songs, instruments, or memories.
  • Design a personalized musical heritage fabric square.
  • Collectively create a story quilt.



National Core Arts Standards

Music Anchor Standard 11: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art. 

Common Core State Standards

ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

Social-Emotional Growth Skills

  • Develop positive intergenerational relationships. 
  • Practice collaboration through community quilting. 
  • Discover personal musical identities.



Students should be familiar with songs, instruments, or musical experiences connected to their family or community.



VIDEO: Sunpie’s Musical Heritage | Musical Heritage and the Accordion with Bruce Sunpie Barnes | Weedie’s Musical Heritage

HANDOUT: Story Quilt Instructions Black and White | Story Quilt Instructions Color

ART SUPPLIES:  fabric squares, scissors, sewing pins or fabric glue, fabric pens or permanent markers, and a larger piece of fabric as backing (fabric can be substituted with butcher paper and construction paper squares)



  1. Write the words, “music” and “heritage” on the board. Ask students: What is music? What is heritage? How do you define each of the terms? Record students’ responses. 


  1. Write the words, “musical heritage” on the board. Ask students: What happens when two words come together? How can they create new meaning? Define musical heritage for students: 
    Musical heritage is the intergenerational history, traditions, and/or practices passed down through song, rhythms, instruments, or musical experiences. It is unique to each person’s identity, culture, and beliefs with deeply rooted influence over our personal and musical journey.


  1. Share your personal musical heritage with students or have them watch Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes or Weedie Braimah discuss their musical heritage.


  1. Explain to students that they are going to explore their own musical heritage and learn about their peers’ musical heritage by creating a story quilt. Gather fabric squares, scissors, sewing pins or fabric glue, fabric pens or permanent markers, and a larger piece of fabric as backing. Teachers can substitute fabric for butcher paper as backing and construction paper as squares. 



Display or print the following steps for creating a “Musical Heritage Story Quilt,” Story Quilt Instructions Black and White or Story Quilt Instructions Color. Model for students how to go through the steps, thinking, identifying, and personalizing their musical heritage squares. 


  1. THINK What moment, person, song, instrument, or memory is part of your musical journey? How is it unique to you?


  1. IDENTIFY Select a fabric color pattern you connect with. Keep the shape as is or cut a new shape.


  1. PERSONALIZE Use a fabric pen or permanent marker to draw, note a date, write a name, instrument, or memory paying tribute to your musical heritage.


  1. COLLABORATE Pin your fabric pieces to the quilt. 


  1. SNAP Take a class picture with your “Musical Heritage Story Quilt.” 



  1. Display the quilt in the classroom or a common space. Have students create a sign with a title for the quilt and a description of the activity. 


  1. Choose a few students each day to share more information about their quilting square (or shape). Ask students: What did you learn about music and heritage? How can music help us connect to our past? Why is it important to pass on musical heritage?



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.

Sunpie Barnes, Music Artist Liaison
Weedie Braimah, Music Artist Liaison
Pamela Blackmon, Curriculum Editor
JoDee Scissors, Editor and Content Producer



Animated GIFs