A History of Country Music

A History of Country Music
Rachel Jackson: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: 1 class day

Required Documents
Country Music Work Sheet


The Election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 brought a change to the tenor of government in the United States. The first six presidents were members of the Gentry or upper class. Andrew Jackson ran his campaign on the fact that he was a “common man.” And although he was born in South Carolina his base of operation was the state his wife Rachel’s family was instrumental in settling, the state of Tennessee. General Jackson had made his name during the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans. This war had given rise to American nationalism and as perhaps the war’s greatest hero Jackson rode this nationalism along with his “back woods” support and his fame as an Indian fighter into the White House in 1828. His base of support was the rural population of the United States which at the time was the largest segment. Those people who voted Jackson into the Presidency lived a much different lifestyle that that of Jackson’s predecessors. This can be seen in their appearances and heard in their music. This lesson will look at the history and development of music in rural America that with the dawn of recording in the early 1900’s eventually became known as Country Music. 


The students will be able to define country music and identify specific characteristics that make it country music, investigate and identify musical instruments used in country music, create a timeline of the history of country music with a minimum of ten entries, and will use computers and the internet and a search engine to conduct research on country music.


Materials Required:

Computer with internet connection and speakers; A projector and screen or interactive white board; Pencil or pen; The Country Music Work Sheet included with this lesson plan; Poster board and markers or crayons.


1.      The lesson will begin with the playing of “Hail Columbia” which was composed by Philip Phile in 1789 for the first inauguration of George Washington. This song can be found on YouTube in link #1 of the Linkable Resources section of this lesson plan. The teacher will explain this and begin a discussion of what the students just listened to. Following are some questions to help the lead the discussion: What feelings are inspired by this song?  How would you describe the song? What does the song tell you about our first president?

2.      Following the discussion of “Hail Columbia” the teacher will play “The Hunters of Kentucky” which was written in 1815 and played at the Inauguration of Andrew Jackson. This song also found on YouTube and can be found in link #2 of the Linkable Resources section of this lesson plan. Then the teacher will lead a second discussion. Following are some questions to help the lead the second discussion: How is this song different than “Hail Columbia?” How would you describe this song? Which of these songs do you like better? Why?

3.      The students will use website #3 from the Linkable Resources section of this lesson plan to complete their Country Music Work Sheet which is included with this lesson plan.

4.      The students will then be divided into pairs or small groups by the teacher. Each group will be required to create a timeline of the history of country music. Each pair or group must use a search engine such as Google, or Bing to help them find their timeline entries. If they search “timeline of the history of country music” they will find plenty of information. The students must include a minimum of 10 entries on their timeline. Each timeline entry must be briefly explained. Graphics (optional) may also be included if a printer is accessible to the students. The timeline must have a title and be labeled correctly.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson could be extended in any number of ways. The students could research various country artists and create a presentation to the class in the form of threefold poster or even a presentation using a presentation program such as PowerPoint in which they could even include audio and video. Other genres of music could also be investigated such as classical, jazz, blues, rock and roll among others.

Sources & Resources:


Hail, Columbia

The Hunters of Kentucky


This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.