This activity uses samples of world music available from the BBC and helps primary or secondary pupils identify where different styles of music come from. I have suggested seven different samples of music but there are 13 available in total so you might prefer to use different ones.

Chris Baldwin

The music is from these places/cultures:

  • Bali
  • Cameroon
  • India
  • Japan
  • Native American
  • North Africa
  • Mexico



  • World music styles
  • Various instruments from around the world


  • Lexis – various countries and musical instruments
  • Skills – speaking / writing


  • Provide a world map per group of pupils.
  • Cut up one set of cards with the names of the seven countries per group of pupils (there are several sets provided below).
  • The music clips used here cannot be downloaded so you will need an internet connection in your classroom to play the music. The clips are available on the BBC School Radio website - scroll down to 'Context: Geographical locations' to find them.


  1. Give pupils in groups a world map and a set of cards, and tell them to put the place names on the map. You may need to help them if their knowledge of geography is limited. 
  2. Tell pupils that they are going to listen to some music from these places and ask if they know anything about it, e.g. types of instruments used, rhythm, etc, depending on their knowledge of musical terms.
  3. Play the samples one at a time and after each one ask pupils to guess where each one comes from. Ask pupils what instruments they can hear in each sample and other characteristics of the music. Help with unknown vocabulary. Then play the sample again.
  4. Play the samples again, in random order and ask pupils to say where it is from.


Pupils can now try to compose their own world music (if they have the musical skills) using available instruments. They can then describe their music, either orally or in writing.



In order to make this type of course plan fulfilled, I thought: motivating children and young teenagers to attempt their best in describing music with beautiful language is quite needed, where their potentials of creativity would be inspired out.
'What is this texture like?' 'What impressions can you remember which are similar with those instrumental descriptions' or 'what moods (what feelings) could you get when listening to this paragraph, can you tell me?'
or 'Could you follow the theme in this texture? which parts did it travel in'
Languages, as so above, would motivate their deep imaginations of music and connect them with their own life.

In further development of this course plan, as for constructing young teenagers' developing zone, we can attempt to introduce some pieces of knowledge about two foundations of worldwide music - Pentatonic scale and Heptatonic scale. All music styles have developed their fashions upon either of these foundations. Yes, if you are in a classroom with limited materials, you can turn to Wikipedia and as one user as me. I thought this pathway would give your classroom great associations, rather than your imaginations.

Meanwhile, some introductions of music terms are also needed - Tempo system, Articulation system, Expression system and some Special signs. Yes, they are from music theories, and you might not want to make your classroom so boring. No matter, just a little bit, such as 'staccato (jumping notes), legato (slurs making sentences running smoothly), Crescendo (making the louder effect continuously) and Decrescendo (making the gentler effect continuously)'. When your young teenagers (or children) can get these senses from certain paragraphs they were listening to, the confidence and senses of achievement will be built up - yep, they will feel happy to analyse music.

The final suggestion is about the relationship between body language and rhythm. Rhythm is the bone of music, which can be directly picked up by beating feet and shaking body. While you are doing so, your body language is working to express your meanings, which can be seen as the supplement of your vocal language. Following it, your brain will get the sense of Time Intervals occupied by music; and, you will feel happy to sway to music. Here, I need to mention a little bit of one type with the strong rhythm - Flamenco. It's three types of 12-beat rhythms have impacted plenty of local musical creations from southern Europe, to Northern Africa, and Southern America etc., In order to work it better (in your piano or guitar melodies), your body needs to describe it correctly and positively- some stronger and weaker beats. Then, ideas and singing fashions will be developed from its bone.

I also enjoyed geographical approach applied in locating musical roots. Based what taught from classroom, our young teenagers can develop and enrich their own list for more branches, like various branches of Chinese traditional music, or some types of modern pop accompaniments etc.

In brief, I thought curiosity of music world from our young teenagers' own hearts (and children) was the best teacher. And, the description of music is from their nature, as in language and out of their own giftedness.

Thanks for this all-inclusive course plan and thanks for BBC's associations in providing different styles of music! Bearing it in your mind and trying to make out one - even one we are going to bring some elements into your own classroom, that is the progress.

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