Connecting Children to Four African Cultures through Musical Experiences

Lana J. Withrow, Music, Barringer Academic Center

Final Unit(pdf)   Implementing Teaching Standards(pdf)


Encouraging young children “not just to listen to music, but to interact and become involved with the act of making music”[i] is a valuable step in their learning development. Likewise, those children shouldn’t just sing a song from an African country; they should be immersed in a multi-sensory experience! In this unit, music students will hear stories and see illustrations from African books, sing in an African language, play an African child’s game, make and perform rhythms on African drums, dance an African dance, and create African masks and sounds to dramatize an African folktale. Recordings and videos will be used to provide windows into the lives and cultures of four African countries: South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Mali. The appealing and fun nature of the chosen musical literature and activities is designed to strengthen the ability of young music students to sing and play music with accuracy, to create music and sounds for dramatization, to respond to musical characteristics and to begin to understand the use of music in African customs and traditions. This unit is easily adaptable for upper elementary grades, and some of the materials and internet links contain interesting and relevant material even for middle and high school students.


[i] What’s The Best Way for My Child to Learn Music, Youth Music, , (Nov. 21, 2015).