Teach Kids About World Music

Learning about music from around the world is quite honestly fascinating for children (and adults!)

Whether it is through folk songs, native instruments, or the "classical" music of a country, music is directly linked to a country's formation, history, and identity.

As we travel the globe in our musical studies, we will spend time in different cultures.  When we learn about the music of other countries/cultures, we learn about its people.  We give our children to develop a "relationship" with the culture.

Music is a gateway to the soul. 
Teach Kids About World Music

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
~ Charlotte Mason (School Education: Developing a Curriculum)

Learning about music from around the world adds to the fullness of our children's lives. Let's explore a few simple ways to learn about world music. 

Folk Songs Around the World

The most simple way to dive into world music is to learn about folk songs.
For example, when studying a particular country, use any one of these resources to locate folk songs for your children to listen to/learn/watch.
  • A favorite resource I refer to often is Mama Lisa's World/International Music and Culture. When I'm looking for a folk song from a particular country there is sure to be a great selection here. 
  • Smithsonian Folkways also offers a comprehensive listing of folk songs.
  • Ambleside Online provides a comprehensive listing of folk songs
  • Folk Song Picture Books - there are a plethora of children's books that are also folk songs - there is an extensive list of American folk songs/picture books here at SQUILT. An internet search and keeping your eye out at used book sales will yield folk songs from other countries, too.
  • Folk Song playlists on YouTube or Spotify - creating a playlist for a country and then immersing your children in that list is such a simple thing to do!


"Classical" Music of a Country

When we learn about music, Classical (with a capital C) refers to Western music written between 1750-1820. We think of Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn. The word classical (lowercase c), means something different.

Leonard Bernstein said this:

“People use this word (classical) to describe music that isn’t jazz or popular songs or folk music, just because there isn’t any other word that seems to describe it better."

As an example, let's travel to South America. In our SQUILT LIVE! membership we learned about the classical music of South America. Our listening calendar provided a piece of "classical" South American music each day:


Classical Music of South America

 In our membership archives we currently have similar calendars for Europe, Africa, North America - and (coming this summer!) Australia and Asia.

Often times the classical music of a country will also incorporate folk melodies from the country as well. As you immerse your children in the classical music of a culture it further allows them to become a part of the culture themselves!

A simple Google search (for example: "classical music of New Zealand") can also provide a lot of listening material. 


Learn About Instruments of a Country

Countries also have so many interesting instruments children can research and learn about. 

For example, learning about the instruments of countries in Africa gives us tremendous insight into communication in many cultures.  One instrument I've seen children gravitate to is the Kalimba. Not only is it used extensively in Africa, but it's also widely available and easy to learn to play.

When we studied Africa in SQUILT LIVE! we had an entire lesson about the Kalimba and I do believe it will go down in a list of favorite lessons!



Consider these fun facts about world instruments:

  • When studying Ireland, children may want to learn about the harp.
  • Did you know that postal workers in Ghana whistle, stamp, and clap to create their own music?
  • The Aboriginal people of Australia invented the Didgeridoo.
  • There is a popular folk song from Russia about the Balalaika.
  • Mariachi Bands (Mexico) have so many instruments to learn about!
  • Indonesian Gamelan Orchestras consist of mostly tuned gongs and xylophone-like instruments
  • Have you ever seen Taiko Drums (Japan)? They are amazing!


Hopefully these ideas have provided you with inspiration and ideas for including World Music in your studies.

Learning about the music of a particular people can give us a window into their world - and provide us an intimate peek into their thoughts and feelings.

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "Music is the universal language of mankind"Sharing the music of a culture with our children is perhaps the easiest way to teach them about that culture.


SQUILT LIVE! Plus membership

Here at SQUILT Music we have incorporated world music extensively into our SQUILT LIVE! membership.  A SQUILT LIVE! Plus member has access to over 115 recorded lessons - many of those about World Music!  

Our mission is to equip and inspire your entire family to appreciate beautiful music from all over the world!


Join us in the Summer of 2022 as we explore the music of Australia and Asia!




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