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Musical Ancestries: West Africa Lesson Prompts

Musical Ancestries: West Africa

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 each lesson/activity 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: West Africa 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 words.
    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. After the listening exercise, ask students to write or talk about their choice of music, instruments, 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 samples of music from select regions/countries and 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 or region based on the selected music samples.
    3. Try basic djembe strokes as shown in Prezi using a similar classroom instrument (Find this in the Prezi: Guinea>Djembe>Do it)
    4. Advanced: Download the djembefola! app for West African drumming. (Find this in the Prezi: Guinea>Kora>Do it)
    5. After listening to the audio of Musical Ancestries: West Africa and viewing Prezi, listen to “African Skies” by Stephen J. Anderson. Try to listen for instruments that you have learned about, as well as the influences of West African culture on this modern-day composition. (African Skies)
    6. Create a Call and Response (Find this in the Prezi: Benin>Call and Response>Do It)
    7. Explore a Pentatonic Scale (Find this in the Prezi: Ghana>Pentatonic>See It)
      • Create a melody using the pentatonic scale through the Sound Matrix Game. (Find this in the Prezi: Ghana>Pentatonic>Do It. Also explore Extend Your Thinking, 1)
      • Create a melody that sounds like music from this country/region.
    8. Have a SCAVENGER HUNT through this episode or across other MA episodes. Keep it simple, not too detailed. Let the students explore.
      • Find the string, wind, or percussion instruments
      • Find the dances or the festivals
      • What parts of the culture, in addition to music, do you see celebrated at festivals?
    9. MATH application: Practice your graphing/plotting skills using the Sound Matrix Game. (Find this in the Prezi: Ghana>Pentatonic Scale>Do It>Extend Your Thinking, 2)
    10. SCIENCE: Build basic instruments related to those in the episode as shown in the Prezi. Discover basic acoustical elements of strings and percussion. (Find this in the Prezi: Guinea>Kora>Do It and Ghana>Balafon>Do It>Extend Your Thinking)
    11. ELA (English Language Arts): Ask Students to think about the Storytellers/Jali in their family. Tell/write a family story. (Find this in the Prezi: Guinea>Oral Traditions>Jali)
      • Experience the Sankofa concept of looking back in order to move forward by interviewing family elders or journaling your own answers. (Find this in the Prezi: Ghana>Sankofa>Hear It>Extend Your Thinking)
      • Select music that represents your family story.
    12. ELA (English Language Arts): Discussion/Journaling Points
      • Who are the historians, storytellers, and keepers of traditions in your family? (Find this in the Prezi: Guinea-Oral Traditions-Jali-See It, Hear It-Extend Your Thinking)
      • What would the success of one Griot musician mean for the whole culture? (Find this in the Prezi: Mali>Kasse Mady Diabate>Biography-Extend Your Thinking)
      • What roadblocks do you think Sona might have faced being the first female in the historically male dominated griot tradition? (Find this in the Prezi: Mali>Sona Maya Jobarteh>Biography-Extend Your Thinking)
      • What parts of the culture other than music do you see celebrated at the Sango festival? Why do you think festivals are a good way to express parts of your culture? If you were to create a festival to celebrate your culture, what would you want to include? (Find this in the Prezi: Benin>Yoruba>Festivals>Extend Your Thinking)
      • On what continent will you find this country?
      • Where is this country/region in relation to the USA?
      • Compare the climate or seasons in this country or region with a similar climate/season in the U.S.
      • How does a country’s position on the globe impact its climate or seasons?
    14. THEATER: Assign parts and allow students to read/act out the story.
      • There can be two or three sets of cast members to include more students.
      • 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.
      • Create accompanying music similar to that of the audio recording using class instruments or use music from Prezi samples.

 National Music Standards addressed: