Free Banjo Project & Spoons Project Lessons

From Nothing to Something 

I can't wait for an opportunity to travel!  This museum looks so interesting!

The National Museum of African American Music is now open in Music City - Nashville, Tennessee.  The mission of the museum is to educate the world, preserve the legacy, and celebrate the central role African Americans play in creating the American soundtrack.

The museum includes galleries showcasing the evolution of African American music traditions, religious experience, the Great Migration and the blues, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, and Urban Renewal.  The Museum Without Walls features in-person and online programs with artists and music industry insiders.
National Museum of African American Music logo

As a Quaver teacher for many years, I learned of the partnership between QuaverEd (also located in Nashville) and the NMAAM when the Spoons Project and the Banjo Project were added to my account. My students LOVED the Spoons Project and Lucius "Spoonman" Talley last spring!  I was thrilled to see that these lessons are freely available to all via the education page on the NMAAM website.  

The lesson series is titled From Nothing To Something (FN2S).  

The QuaverEd lessons can be found here:

How I Used the Spoons Project

My teaching schedule had me seeing the same class for an entire week, then rotating on to the next class on a 5-week rotation.  This project was the perfect fit for my 5 lesson schedule, and I was even able to complete most of the activities in only 4 days when we had a short week. Because of time, I was not able to complete every one of the activities.  There is a lot of material for us to choose from!  Here is what I did.

Lesson 1: Spoons Project Lesson 1-Overview

  • Screen 2: I displayed and we read the project objectives. Click on that green arrow and check out the Listen to the Spoons link.  This is an audio example with discussion or writing prompts. We watched the performance example on that page. 
  • Screen 3: Listen to animated Spoonman Talley talk about the Essential Question.  Allow the students to answer his question. 
  • I went on to Screen 5 and we met Mr. Talley, then skipped to Screen 7 and watched How to Play Spoons video.  At this point, my students were so ready to get to playing!  
  • I passed out the spoons and allowed them some time to experiment.  We did some echo patterns using some of Spoonman Talley's examples.  Then, I asked them to play a different pattern from me, to improvise.  
  • Finally, we skipped over to Screen 12 and we played our spoons to several of the tracks.
Lesson 2: Spoons Project Lesson 2-How to Play Spoons

  • Screen 2: Review the Essential Question
  • Screen 3: Watch the How To Play Spoons Part 2 video (3 min)
  • Screen 4:  Spoonman Talley describes how spoons, bones, and drums developed as instruments. Click on the Compare button to compare the three.
  • Pass out the spoons and practice similar to lesson 1.  Try some different patterns or tapping on different body parts to get different sounds.  
  • Screen 11: Improvise to some of the audio tracks as a group, then allow solo opportunities.

Stay Tuned!

The next part in this series where I share more lessons and the best places to get spoons! 

Sally's Signature

Free Banjo Project & Spoons Project LessonsFree Banjo Project & Spoons Project Lessons


"What other ways can I introduce this song?"  I was asking the same question as I struggled through the first lesson to introduce our concert repertoire to a second grade class.  The whole class consisted of "I sing, you sing!"  The students and I were all bored and there was way too much sitting for an elementary music class.  That boring class led me to explore all of the ways I could find to teach new music without having the class echo phrases.  

If you struggle with the same challenges, whether you are in concert prep mode or regular class time, this video session is for you!  Originally presented during The Music Crew Virtual Conference 2021 held inside The Music Crew Collaborative Facebook Group, this 30-minute session presents two framework strategies and seven focus areas that will keep your classes or rehearsals engaging and productive.


In my last post, I shared many ways to use one welcome song, Hello Everybody, across the grade levels.  In this post, you will find a small collection of my favorite hello songs or welcome songs from various sources. 


Hello! Welcome! 

Greetings are a common social norm whenever we are out in public or invite people into our homes.  Greeting songs serve the same purposes in our music classrooms - to make our students feel welcome and to set the tone for the day. Here is one of my favorites, Hello Everybody!