Cross Disciplines with Folk Songs, Part 2

Folk songs exist around the world. The MENC lesson plan library (My Music Class) includes folk songs from other countries:

Strategies for Teaching Middle-Level General Music Standard 2C (middle school)

Students play folk songs from Israel and Canada in two different styles, using stylistically appropriate articulation.

Arab Music  (middle/high school)

By learning two Arabic folk songs, students uncover key traits of Arabic music (pitch, rhythm, instruments, improvisation, and performance practice), finding similarities and differences between Arabic music culture and their own.

Kuma San Suite  (elementary/middle school)

Students sing folk songs from different ethnic origins, identifying the form (traditional, call and response, storytelling), and arrange a familiar song in call-and-response or storytelling form.

Strategies for Teaching K-4 General Music Standard 4C 

Students create, perform, and evaluate an original accompaniment to a haiku based on one or more Japanese folks songs they’ve previously learned.

Mmangwane  (elementary/middle school)

Students learn this South African wedding song, learn body percussion, discuss traditional South African choral sound, and compare the characteristics of a recording to their own performance. Extensions cover culture, geography, language arts, and physical education.

Theme and Variation  (elementary school)

Students listen to an English folk song in theme-and-variation form, identifying elements of the music that were changed in the variations. Students then create their own variations on a simple theme, manipulating melody, harmony, rhythm, etc. Students use vocal sound effects, found sounds, or traditional instruments to add different sound effects to a poem.

Una Luna Brilla  (elementary/middle school)

Students sing a song in Calypso style, perform xylophone parts, improvise percussion accompaniment, and explore the culture of Trinidad and Tobago.

See also Pick a Peck of Multicultural Lesson Plans.


Cross Disciplines with Folk Songs, Part 1
Sing a Boatload of History with Folk Songs
Share the Music Across disciplines, Part 1
Share the Music Across Disciplines, Part 2

Kodály multicultural folk song collection

Find song and album downloads, videos, feature articles, and tools for teaching at Smithsonian Folkways.

See Patricia Shehan Campbell’s article in Folkways magazine, “Songs By and For Children: A Legacy of Children’s Music.”

—Linda C. Brown, December 16, 2009, © National Association for Music Education (