Up Above My Head I Hear Music: Using the Form of Blues Songs to Make Poems

Sequence of Activities:

Introducing "Up Above My Head" (20 minutes)

  • Context: Talk about Blues Song as a Form and Sister Rosetta Tharpe specifically: foundress of rock and roll as form. Talk about song lyrics (posted at the end of this lesson). What do they often do that is like poetry? Repetition, rhyme, rhythm, express emotion, specific word choice etc.
  • Watch a video of Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing “Up Above My Head” What do you notice?
  • Students often notice the repetition of "Up Above My Head". They will often talk about the repetition, use of metaphor (is she really hearing music or what does she mean by this?)  

Brainstorming and Writing (30 minutes)

  • Brainstorm some examples completing the following statements:
    • Up Above ____, I hear (can also use see/taste/touch/smell)
    • Down Below ______, I hear
    • Over the ______, I hear
    • Under the _____, I hear
    • Deep in my heart, I hear ______
  • There are many ways to invite students to create poems from here. When I did it, I had students do at least two stanzas repeating Up Above and one of the others and then using all the senses (I hear/I see/I taste/I touch/I smell).

Time to Share With the Group (10 min)




Students think about form and remaking existing form into a poem Students think about repetition, metaphor, imagery

Education Level: 





Lesson Plan

Time Frame: 

1 hour

Required Materials: 

Video of Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing "Up Above My Head" Pencil and pen/paper

Literary model: 

"Up Above My Head" by Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Lesson Plan: