Music In Africa

Author: Amy Thueson

Grade Level: Early Elementary


  • Children will recognize different types of instruments and voices used in traditional African Music

Materials Needed:

  • A computer either in the classroom or if that is not available, computers in the media center will work also.
  • Microsoft Encarta (This is a CDRom available to most schools and very student friendly. Any year or version will work, however Encarta'95 was used for this lesson plan.)


  1. Ask the students if they can make music with their hands or feet. If they say they cannot, clap your hands in different rhythms. Ask, "Am I making music now?" Explain that in Africa, clapping hands and stomping feet is a popular way of making music. They also add many drums or flutes and a lot of voices. Tell students that in different countries of Africa they play different types of music. Also that a lot of the music they will hear on the computer is traditional and not the modern type of music that many Africans now listen to.

  2. If more than one CDRom of Encarta is available let students go in groups to the computers and discover African Music. If only one computer is available I suggest doing this as a presentation on a big screen or using the computer as a center and students can take turns going back in pairs.

  3. Let students explore with the computer software. Note: The teacher needs to have it already set up. Go to "Area of Interest", select Performing Arts. A slide window will open, select Music. A window pops up, select African Music & Dance from the list.

  4. When all the students have had a turn to play on the computer gather into a large group. Ask them the following questions:
  • What did you like about the music you heard?
  • How is it different from the music you hear everyday?
  • Could you hear the different types of instruments used?
  • Did you hear single voices and group voices?
  • Can you name some of the instruments?
  • Do you think that if I brought in some music tomorrow you would be able to tell if it was African music or not?


  1. Evaluate student responses in discussion.
  2. Bring in African music the next day and see if they can tell you where it is from.
  • Ask the students again, "What types of instruments and voices do you hear?"
  • In what ways is it different from yesterday's music you heard?
  • In what ways is it the same?

Background Information

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