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Civil War
Lesson Plan

Analyze Music of the Civil War Era

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1st Place, Best Lesson Plan Contest 2013-2014

Grade Level: 8th grade

Subject: General Music/Band, Civil War history

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will recognize the worlds and tunes to songs sung by Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
  • Students will explain what emotions are invoked by lyrics.
  • Students will use information found in songs to design a cover for sheet music.

Essential Questions:

What songs were used by the Confederates during the Civil War? The Union?
What emotions did the songs of the Civil War bring out in the listeners?

Activate Learning: 

Key Vocabulary: Battle cry, Bonnie, Comrades, Exile, Goober peas, Illustration, Motto, Palaces, Rally, Parody, Standard, Sheet music, Traitor, Tyrants

Introduction: Play music as students enter class or lesson time begins. Introduce the attached information on "Background Information for Civil War Songs" and discuss lyrics and the emotions they evoke. Show examples of sheet music and how it was illustrated.

Teaching Strategies:

  1. Pass out copies of:
  2. Listen again to the songs, encouraging students to sing.
  3. Allow students to choose a song they find interesting. 
  4. Use the theme of the song to create.
  5. Design an illustration for a sheet music cover.
  6. Write a song about a feeling, or happening from the era or about school life, etc. 
  7. Write a short story about what one of the Civil War songs describes:
    1. "Write a Letter to My Mother."
    2. "Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground." 


  • Students will be assessed for class participation.
  • Students will be assessed on their album cover.
  • Students will be assessed on their song or interpretation of a song.