Pick a Peck of Multicultural Lesson Plans

Multicultural music is important, but where can you go for lesson plans to build your repertoire and resources? MENC’s My Music Class can help.

MENC member Patricia Shehan Campbell points out that Smithsonian Global Sound “is a vast storehouse of recordings and video-recordings, with ‘tools for teaching’, too.”

Here’s a sampling of Smithsonian Global Sound (SGS) lesson plans available in My Music Class. Each addresses one or more of the National Standards and provides links to the SGS Web site for sound tracks and graphics.

Melodic Rhythms of India

Introduces middle school students to the melodic rhythms of the tabla tarang, a classical drumming style. Students learn to improvise the jati system of vocalizing rhythms. Addresses standards 3, 6, and 9. View this lesson plan.

Mbiras, Marimbas, and You: Zimbabwean Music

Students at all levels can learn to play and compose music with the mbira. This lesson explores music’s impact on Zimbabwe’s history and culture and its ability to incite social change. It includes notations and historical background. Addresses standards 1, 2, 4-6, 8, 9. Among the suggested extensions is an integrative, performance-based project for choirs. View this lesson plan.

Dance Traditions of Argentina

Middle school students learn two contrasting dance traditions, the Chacarera and Tango, and the music that accompanies them. Addresses standards 2, 6, 8, and 9. View this lesson plan.

Island Soundscape: Musics of Hawaii, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea

Elementary school students discover the island cultures of the South Pacific and their musical expressions with songs, crafts, and games. Uses recordings of Hawaiian slack key guitar, rhythmic game songs from the Solomon Islands, and flute music from Papua New Guinea. Addresses standards 1, 2, 5, 6, and 9. View this lesson plan.

“Sakura Sakura” and the Kumoijoshi Scale of Japan

Elementary and middle school students discuss Japanese customs for spring and the meaning of cherry blossoms. After listening to Japanese and American versions of the same song, they discuss the similarities and differences. Addresses standards 1, 2, 3, 5, and 9. As an extension, students create an Orff-inspired arrangement of “Sakura” using xylophones, recorders (melody and counter melody), and singing. View this lesson plan.

To find more of the 19 SGS lesson plans, visit My Music Class and search on “Smithsonian Global Sound.”

SGS lessons are designed and tested by educators in the SGS Teacher-Nexus-Teacher network. For more information and to explore thousands of recordings from around the world visit www.smithsonianglobalsound.org. Teachers can purchase full CDs or individual music tracks.

Patricia Shehan Campbell is the Donald E. Petersen professor of music at the University of Washington in Seattle. She has written extensively on using multicultural music and is coeditor of Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education, which is full of lesson plans. The 3rd Edition is due out next summer.


Do you have a multicultural lesson you’d like to share?

Linda Brown, October 29, 2008, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)