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Musical Ancestries: Jewish Music and Culture Lesson Prompts

Musical Ancestries™: Jewish Music and Culture

Each Musical Ancestries episode, through the audio story and Prezi resources, provides a wealth of materials for teachers and parents to use at their discretion.  Shape the activity/lesson as you wish. Use bits and pieces of the resources as they fit into your plan or create something new. This is NOT a checklist of activities that must be followed or a curriculum that dictates how you use the resources.  The Prezi materials have been vetted for accuracy, authenticity, and child appropriateness so you don’t have to spend time doing so.

Students learn in various ways.  Some may benefit more from the story format and adventure and others from independent research. Some students need to see it, some need to hear it, some need to do it. We encourage you to use the audio story and Prezi resources to address the differing learning styles in your classroom.

     Lesson Prompts/Idea Board

Start Here

  • Preview Radio Broadcast Story/Audio Recording, Script, and/or Prezi of educational resources

Children’s Radio Story/Audio Recording

  • Play all or part of the Musical Ancestries: Jewish Music and Culture Story/Audio Recording for the students
    1. Prep students for the story/audio recording by introducing select instruments and styles of music through the Prezi. Include vocabulary words/music terms. 
    2. As students listen to the story/audio recording, have them follow along with the Listening Map or create a listening map of their own.  
    3. As students are listening to the audio story, project the script and have them follow along. You can also project photos from the Prezi of instruments and other images of note. 
    4. After the listening exercise, ask students to write or talk about their choice of music, instruments, city/country, or traditions incorporating some of the vocabulary words/musical terms learned.

Prezi Educational Resources

  • Delve deeper with your choice of materials and resources from the Prezi presentation.
    1. Play music samples. Compare and contrast musical elements. What is the same and what is different?
    2. Play “drop the needle” with music from the Prezi or audio recording. Have students try to identify the country/region, the style or instruments based on the selected music samples. This could be across MA episodes, as well.
    3. Before watching the video, “Jews in Music,” what expectations do you have about the look and sound of Jewish music? After watching the video, have your expectations changed? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Overview> Think about it…)
    4. What instrument was originally made from turtle shells, sheep intestine, and fish skin? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Mizrahi>Kanun)
    5. What other instruments do you know that are made out of parts of animals? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Celebrations> Rosh Hashanah>Shofar>Extend Your Thinking)
    6. Learn about quarter tones found in Mizrahi music. (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Mizrahi>Kanun>See It>Quarter Tones) MATH reference with the ruler.
    7. Try the 10 darbuka rhythms. (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Mizrahi>Darbuka>Hear It)
    8. Learn the song, “Dreidel” and learn how to play the game. (Find the game in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Celebrations>Chanukah)
    9. Watch and listen to the shofar videos. How would you describe the differences in the sound each time Aaron plays the ram’s horn? For how many seconds does Aaron play the last blast? Do you think it is easier to hold low notes for a long time or high notes for a long time? Why? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Celebrations> Rosh Hashanah>Shofar)
  • DANCE: Learn the Klezmer step. Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Ashkenazi>Klezmer Music>Dancing)
  • Have a SCAVENGER HUNT through this episode or across other MA episodes. Keep it simple, not too detailed. Let the students explore.
    1. Find the string, wind, or percussion instruments
    2. Find the local musicians or organizations
    3. Find the dances and celebrations/festivals
    4. Find the traditional foods
    1. Learn how to make Cheese Blintzes. (Find this in the Prezi: Ashkenazi>How to make Cheese Blintzes)
    2. Learn how to make Challah bread and Hamantaschen cookies. (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Celebrations)
  • SCIENCE: Watch the two videos on how a darbuka is made and look for the similarities. Do you recognize any of the music? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Mizrahi>Darbuka>See It)
  • ELA (English Language Arts):
    1. Learn how the many ways of spelling Hanukkah and which are used most commonly.
  • ELA (English Language Arts: Discussion/Journaling Points
    1. What are some things that might be the same in Jewish culture and communities around the world? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Overview>The Jewish Diaspora>Extend Your Thinking)
    2. Do you speak the same way all of the time, or does your language adapt to the situation? How do you speak to your parents? How do you speak with your teachers? How do you speak with your friends? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Ashkenazi>Yiddish> Extend Your Thinking)
    3. Can music heal the world? Are there any performers who inspire you to make changes in your world? How can you changed ideas into actions? (Find this in the Prezi: Jewish Music>Mizrahi>Artists>Extend Your Thinking)
    1. On what continents will you find this culture?
    2. Has the cultural population moved throughout history? ADVANCED: Track the primary journeys.
  • THEATER: Assign parts and allow students to read/act out the story.
    1. There can be two or three sets of cast members to include more students.
    2. Have students plan what the scenes might be and the stage set-up. Draw a picture or make a diorama or do the real thing.
    3. Create accompanying music similar to that of the audio recording using class instruments or use music from Prezi samples.

National Music Standards addressed:




MU:Cr2A.3b -5b