Teacher Resources

Use this interactive lesson to introduce students to two major musical expressions of African American watermen and seafood processors in Chesapeake Bay communities – spirituals and chanteys.

Throughout the lesson, students will a) explore how music is a form of cultural, social, and historical communication and expression b) gain experience with simple music analysis of two musical styles performed by African American watermen.

Lesson Information

  • Grade Band: 6-8
  • Focus Standard: Maryland State Music Standards - Anchor Standard 11; National Association of Music Educators (NAfME) Standards - Common Anchor 11
  • Topic: Arts (Music)
  • Completion Time: 40 - 50 minutes
  • Vocabulary: Visit the Glossary page for definitions of key vocabulary in this module.

This interactive lesson is aligned with Maryland State Music Standards and the National Association of Music Educators (NAfME) Standards .

Related Standards

Maryland State Music Standards

Anchor Standard 11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

National Association of Music Educators (NAfME) Standards

Common Anchor 11
  • Connect: Relate musical ideas and works with varied context to deepen understanding.
    • Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life.

Additional Resources

  • Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation, Inc.
    Learn more about the rich history and enduring legacy of African Americans in the Chesapeake Bay maritime and seafood industries.
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
    Explore the ways the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum explores and preserves the history, environment, and culture of the entire Chesapeake Bay region
  • Minorities In Aquaculture (MIA)
    Discover how Minorities In Aquaculture promotes the benefits and sustainability of aquaculture, and educates minority women about the environmental benefits provided by local and global aquaculture.
  • Water's Edge Museum
    Explore the history of Maryland's founding African American families in the maritime region located on the water's edge of Eastern Shore communities.


Anderson, Harold. “Manhaden Chanteys: An African American Maritime Legacy,” Maryland Maritime Notes, Jan.-Feb. 2000.

Burnim, Melonee.“Spirituals.” In African American Music: An Introduction. 2nd ed., edited by Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby. New York: Routledge. 2015.

Epstein, Dena. Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003 reprint [1977].

Maultsby, Portia K. “Work Song, Field/Street Call, Satirical & Protest Songs.” A History of African American Music. 2021. https://timeline.carnegiehall.org/genres/work-songs-field-street-calls-satirical-protest-songs

Schreffler, Gibb. “The Execrable Term”: A Contentious History of Chanty. American Speech. 1 November 2017; 92 (4): 429–458. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-4395157

Winick, Stephen. “A Deep Dive Into Sea Shanties” Folklife Today. Jan. 29, 2021 https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2021/01/a-deep-dive-into-sea-shanties/


Using This Site

This lesson is built for use on classroom computers and tablets. If you have access to a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or an interactive whiteboard in your classroom, you may complete the lesson in your classroom. Otherwise, you will need to schedule time to use your school's computer lab. For technical specifications, see below.

Some activities on this site may include videos and narration, so you may want to have headphones available for students working at individual stations. For best results in viewing the videos and interactives, you should have a high-speed, stable Internet connection.

This lesson may contain PDFs for students to complete. They can print the PDFs and fill them out by hand, or download the files and fill them out on the computer. Most or all portions can be filled out online. Please check with your Instructional Technology Specialist for instructions on downloading the PDF. (Note that to complete the PDFs on the computer, you will need a viewer, such as Adobe Reader, that supports forms.)


This site is an Internet-based activity, and it was built to run on the following computer operating systems and browsers:

  • Windows 7 or Newer: IE 8, 9, 10, 11; Current version of Chrome; Current version of Firefox
  • Mac OS 10.7 or Newer: Current version of Safari
  • iPad2/iOS6 or Newer: Current version of Safari
  • Android 4.0 or Newer: Current version of Android browser
  • Chromebook: Current version of Chrome

Users running Internet Explorer 8 will not be able to use the highlighter tool. Instead, teachers should consider partnering students for a brief discussion.

Visit the Accessibility page for detailed information on the site's accessibility features.