Explore the History of the Spoons!

This Quaver Music project, created in collaboration with the National
Museum of African American Music, celebrates the history of the spoons.

This past August, QuaverEd announced its partnership with the National Museum of African American Music.

In October, we added six new lessons, created for the museum’s “From Nothing to Something” curriculum, to the QuaverMusic Curriculum.

These lessons, found in the 4th and 5th-grade curriculum, focus on the banjo, spoons, and the origins and traditions of these instruments.

You can find these lessons under “Special Projects” in the 4th and 5th grade curriculum or by searching “banjo” and “spoons” in Resource Manager.

As we approach February and Black History Month, we hope that you take the time to explore these engaging projects with your students.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive deeper into these two projects. Though these lessons will be a rich addition to February lesson plans, we hope that you continue to use these projects beyond this month and dig deeper into the origins and traditions of these instruments with your students.


The Spoons Project

The Spoons Project, found in the 4th-grade curriculum under Special Projects, consists of three lessons designed to guide students in learning how to play the spoons, how the spoons and related instruments are a part of music in America, and performance of a list poem inspired by the spoons.

The project also comes with a printable project book that can be found in the Worksheets section of each lesson.

In this project, students will meet Lucius “Spoonman” Talley, a Culture Bearer and spoons player based in Nashville, TN.

Meet Lucius “Spoonman” Talley!

Mr. Talley guides students through each lesson, starting with Lesson 1, “The History of the Spoons.” In each lesson, Mr. Talley’s likeness appears in both video and animated form. Students will find a number of video interviews with Mr. Talley and the animated version narrates each lesson screen.

Lesson 1: The History of the Spoons

The purpose of this lesson is to guide students in playing the spoons and to provide information about this type of instrument.

Students will also be introduced to List Poems. A list poem is a collection or inventory of people, places, and things that are related to each other and presented in an interesting way. Students will have a chance to write their own list poem based on what they’ve learned about the spoons and will perform it at the end of the project.

Lesson 2: Spoons in America

In Lesson 2, “Spoons in America,” students will explore the history of several percussion instruments played in America, including the bones, the drums, and the spoons.

Students will also have the opportunity to edit and expand on their list poem from the previous lesson.

Lesson 3: Performing with Spoons

In Lesson 3, “Performing with Spoons,” students will be able to practice playing the spoons and to perform their list poem inspired by the spoons.

At the end of the lesson, students will perform their list poem and have the chance to evaluate their performance.


And there you have it! We hope this overview of the Spoons Project inspires you to give it a try with your students. Though February is a wonderful time to explore the history of African American music, we hope that the foundations built with this project will encourage you and your students to dive deeper throughout the rest of the year and beyond!


Did you try this project? We’d love to hear how this project is working with your students. And if you’re ever in Tennessee, pay a visit to the National Museum of African American Music — now open in downtown Nashville!