Gospel Music Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What stands out about gospel music and what are its origins? This lesson plans opens with enticing music and is highlighted by a video lesson and an activity geared toward analysis.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'gospel music'
  • summarize the key characteristics of gospel music
  • list the different types of gospel music
  • name influential gospel artists


1.5 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.


  • Audio of a well-known gospel song
  • A video clip of Mahalia Jackson's singing scene in the feature film The Imitation of Life
  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated video lesson
  • Assorted selections of gospel sheet music
  • Internet access (optional)
  • Internet-enabled devices (optional)


  • Begin by playing the audio of the selected gospel song for the class.
    • What stood out to you in this song?
    • How did it make you feel?
    • Was there a message in the lyrics?
    • What genre of music does the song represent?
  • Play the video lesson What is Gospel Music? - Definition, History & Artists for the class, pausing it at 2:45.
    • Did anyone correctly identify the song as gospel music?
    • Did the example of gospel music played in class match any of the types of gospel music presented in the lesson? If so, which one and why?
    • How is the history of gospel music represented in the music?
  • Play the video lesson again. Pause it this time at 3:38.
  • Now play the video of Mahalia Jackson singing in the film The Imitation of Life for the class.
    • How does Mahalia Jackson's performance make you feel?
    • Is this video clip representative of gospel music? Why or why not?
  • Play the rest of the video lesson for the class at this time.
    • Have you heard of any of the artists mentioned in the video lesson?
    • Do you think that one type of gospel music is more common than the others? Why or why not?
  • Answer any remaining questions then have students complete the worksheet, checking answers together.

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