World music

Below, in no particular order, are some resources you might want to look at that draw on musical influences from around the globe.

1. Chinese music.

The song below is a popular Chinese new year song called Gong Xi There are many different versions on the internet.

Here is the music

GongXiGongXi  (Thanks to Yoke Wong for sharing)

Ideas for using:

Choose some notes from the song to compose a simple ostinato

Learn to sing the chorus

Discuss which instruments have a suitable timbre that could be used to accompany the song ( eg cymbals, boomwhackers, glockenspiel)

Devise some rhthmic ostinatos to play.

Music express have a version of this song with English lyrics in their book

“Early years Foundation Stage Music Express”.

Investigate pentatonic scales and compose your own own GongXi refrain

Listen to Mu min xin ge – a traditional Chinese song about a mongolian cattleman

This has lots of potential for discussing timbre. There is a great ipad app called pitch painter which allows you to select chinese flute and harp to compose melodies by drawing on the ipad. You could also look at exploring tempo.

Juliet Donaldson’s book “The Magic Paintbrush” provides a great stimulus for composition using a pentatonic scale

.Magic paintbrush1

2. South Africa

These two songs from Miriam Makeba are great to show classes. The first song has become known as the “click” song because  “Q” is pronounced like a clike in the Xhosa language. It is sung at weddings

Pata pata is a dance. The children could work out some dance moves that fit with the music. This is a great song to create some rhythmic ostinatos that could be played/clapped as accompaniments.


Why not have a look at some samba clips?  As the world cup is being held in brazil (and the next olympics) there is a good chance that children will be hearing plenty of samba all around them.

Here is a BBC clip

Although Samba can be a bit tricky for key stage 1 there are some great ideas for developing simple samba rhythms using the nursery rhyme “Ba ba black sheep” in the book “World Beats Music Extra” by Ensemblebash


Raga and tala in Indian music

There are some great resources for schools here. Really worth a look.

Raghupati Raghava RajaRam is an instrumental version of a traditional Indian religious chant. It was a favourite of Mahatma Ghandi

Can the children identify the changes in tempo?

Further resources:

Oxfam have got some brilliant lesson plans.

Click here to for key stage 1

Click here for key stage 2

The World Music Network is a fantastic resource and well worth a browse

Music express books published by A & C Black contain lots of great world music ideas. You can find additional materials to suport the books on their website here.

Click on the year group icon to explore.

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