Blog Post

Protest Songs on the Ukulele with Joanie

photo portrait of smiling light skinned woman with long grey, wavy hair holding her guitar up with the guitar's neck resting against the side of her face

This past year I have had the privilege of teaching the History of Protest Music and ukulele to grades 3 – 5 at the Red Oak Community School, with the support of Art Possible Ohio. Now of course, we are learning online, and here is Ukulele Lesson #2.  The History of Protest Music would not be complete without including numerous songs from the Civil Rights movement, and these songs are perfect for learning a new instrument, because they had fairly easy structures, and were created as “zipper” songs, which are songs that are meant to have new verses added on the spot to keep the songs going for long periods of time (like during long marches or at rallies), and for keeping the crowds involved and engaged. 

When you are learning a new instrument, you have to practice over and over and over, so playing a song that you can keep creating new verses for is a perfect way to keep that practice going.  The three songs in this lesson are all easy zipper songs that have three chords, F, Bb and C7. The first song is called Oh Freedom. The second song is called Everybody Sing Freedom, and the last song in today’s lesson is called If You Miss Me At the Back of the Bus. In Lesson #1 we played songs that just used F and C7, so we are stepping up a notch here and adding a third chord, Bb, and also learning a more complcated form of the F chord.  These songs use a two finger F chord…last lesson we used just a 1 finger F chord.

Want to get a Ukulele of your own? Joanie recommends these two options:

Mahalo Kahiko Series MK1 Soprano Ukulele

Mitchell MU40 Soprano Ukulele