Preservation Hall Lessons – New Orleans Music Genres and Origins – Bourbon Street Parade, Mahalia Jackson and more

New Orleans Genres and Origin

GRADE: 6-8
SUBJECT: Music, History, Culture
GENRE: New Orleans Rhythm and Blues, Ragtime, Traditional Jazz, Early Brass Band, Blues, Contemporary Brass Band, New Orleans Gospel
TOPIC: Music Genres
DISCIPLINE: Music General


Students will explore genres of music unique to New Orleans history and culture. They will learn the song, “Bourbon Street Parade,” and research legendary composer, Paul Barbarin. 



  • Listen to and analyze New Orleans music genres. 
  • Describe the seven New Orleans music genres, ragtime, New Orleans gospel, traditional, early brass band, blues, rhythm & blues, and contemporary brass band. 
  • Gather key details about composer and drummer, Paul Barbarin.
  • Sing the lyrics to the song, “Bourbon Street Parade.”



National Core Arts Standards

Music – Anchor Standard 4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
Music – Anchor Standard 6 Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
Music – Anchor Standard 7 Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Common Core State Standards

RI.6.3 Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text.
RI.7.3 Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text.
RI.8.3 Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events.

Social-Emotional Growth Skills:

  • Students will appreciate the diversity among the 6 New Orleans music genres and how each has their own strengths.
  • Students will demonstrate collaboration as they rehearse and perform “Bourbon Street Parade” in an ensemble of peers.
  • 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.



Students should have familiarity with different types of music and text analysis. Teachers should review the lesson resources, media, and websites prior to launching the lesson.





  1. Introduce the lesson by asking students. Allow time for students to share their responses in partners and make peer-to-peer connections. Possible Questions: What is your favorite type of music? Why?  What do you enjoy about that music? What songs fall under that category of music? How does that music make you feel? *SEAL Soundbite – Collaboration among peers can sometimes be a challenge and taking a moment to review how to speak and listen can be a moment well spent.  Remind students to take turns speaking, to face their peers while listening and to feel free to respond directly to what another person says by agreeing or commenting.


  1. Display slide 3 from the presentation, New Orleans Genres and Origin. Introduce the term genre to students. Review the definition with students: A genre is a category that defines a musical style. Pieces of music that belong to a shared tradition. It is to be distinguished from musical form and musical style, although in practice these terms are sometimes used interchangeably.


  1. Distribute copies of the note taking organizer to students. Play a short segment of Ragtime, New Orleans Gospel, and Contemporary Brass Band from slide 4 of the presentation, New Orleans Genres and Origin. Ask students to listen and analyze each song, making notes in their organizer. Ask: What differences can you distinguish between each song? Do you think they fall in the same genre or a different genre? Play the songs again to allow further analysis. 


  1. Review the genres they heard: ragtime, New Orleans gospel, and contemporary brass band. Tell students they are going to explore New Orleans music genres. Ask: What are music genres? Why would the classification of music help us understand the context and creation of a song?


  1. Introduce these New Orleans genres: ragtime, New Orleans gospel, traditional, early brass band, blues, New Orleans rhythm & blues, and contemporary brass band. Use the chart on slide 5 of the presentation, New Orleans Genres and Origin, to review the definitions and characteristics of each type. Distribute the Comparing Genres Organizer and allow time for students to add notes to each genre.


  1. Have a class discussion about each genre of New Orleans music. Allow time for students to share connections and ask questions. 



  1. Share the following media for each genre of music with students. Allow time for students to listen to each type several times from the Playlist: New Orleans Genres and Origin. Have students “turn and talk” to discuss the music, and allow them time to add notes to their note taking organizer for each genre.


  1. Introduce “Paul Barbarin’s Bio” on slide 13 of the presentation, New Orleans Genres and Origin. Tell students that Barbarin was a traditional New Orleans Jazz drummer and composer. Discuss the details of Barbarin’s bio and perform one of Paul Barbarin’s songs on an instrument or stream a song on the web, such as “Paul Barbarin’s Second Line” or “Bourbon Street Parade.”


  1. Share historical facts about Barbarin and his relationship to the French Quarter and Congo Square. Tell students that Barbarin nurtured his skill during the apex of Storyville which led him to perform with other great pioneers of New Orleans Jazz, including King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, and Jimmie Noone. His musical compositions are easily recognizable in the New Orleans Jazz repertoire. Have students explore the origins of Traditional Jazz through the contributions of Barbarin’s work. Share with the following resources: Preservation Hall Foundation: Paul Barbarin’s Second Line, Preservation Hall Foundation: “Bourbon Street Parade”, and 64 Parishes: Paul Barbarin


  1. Distribute the “Bourbon Street Parade Lyrics.” Tell students they are going to rehearse one line then come together as an ensemble. 



  1. Evaluate students with a written response. Ask: What are the six genres of New Orleans music? Describe what makes at least 2 of those genres unique.  How did Paul Barbarin influence Traditional New Orleans Jazz? What is something you appreciate about his contribution to New Orleans Jazz?


  1. Have students present an ensemble performance to the “Bourbon Street Parade.” Ask: What is something you enjoy about this song?  What about this song and/or performing it with your ensemble, helps you to appreciate New Orleans Jazz?



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, Editor and Content Curator
Meredith Sharpe, Adaptations Writer
Elizabeth Peterson, Social and Emotional Artistic Learning (SEAL) Consultant



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