Music and civilizations. A cultural encounter at school.

A cultural dialogue based on listening to music and on making it

    School sections
    • Lower secondary school
    Educational subjects
    • Instrumental practice
    • Composition

Music and civilizations. A cultural encounter at school.

“Music and civilizations. A cultural encounter at school” was a project addressed to the first-year classes of the lower secondary school Giovanni Paolo II in Castel Guelfo (BO), during the academic year 2014/2015.

This interdisciplinary path was developed with the aim to make the curricular activities an artistic experience, stimulating the students’ knowledge of other musical cultures, in particular, the Senegalese culture. The Italian Language and Literature teacher, the Art teacher and the Technology teacher were involved.

The main aim was to enhance the students’ creativity, in the perspective of improving their relationship in class through creative/musical activities capable of fostering wellbeing, cohesion and sense of belonging to the class.

The project started from the practical and actual pleasure of making music, understood as a physiological and psychological call that everybody more or less has.

The experience spurred the students to reflect on musical traditions connected to aspects of daily life, and to open up towards musical pieces distant from their usual listening habits.

The project was based on a topic chosen by the Institute for a "reading project", that is the territory in all its meanings. The territory guided the students and teachers in their reading choices and in the realization of artistic and music productions. A book by Ada Maty. A story sung by various voices (Angela Cattelan and Franca Mazzoli), that narrates - through music and songs - the friendship between two children coming from different cultures. This was indeed an excellent starting point from where to begin a journey aimed at discovering the richness of the African territory.

Work tools

The project was realized during the regular Music lessons in the second four-month period, from February to April 2015.

It was divided into four steps:
- Listening to traditional African songs, drawn from a book by Ada Maty. A story sung by various voices.
- Learning the songs.
- Invention of rhythmic/melodic ostinatos used to accompany two songs played on recorders and keyboards.
- Musical laboratory with an external expert, a Senegalese percussionist, who cooperated in the realization of the book that I used.

The first two steps, listening and learning, were carried out in two hours during the regular music lesson in class. Two songs were proposed, easy to learn from a rhythmic and melodic viewpoint.

The third step, invention of rhythmic ostinatos, took place spontaneously: some students stimulated by the African songs listened to, invented some rhythmic and melodic ostinatos on their instruments.

The fourth step of the musical laboratory, with the external expert, was the final moment of the project. Besides learning new African rhythms by imitation, the students sung and played the songs learned in the previous steps, accompanied by the percussionist.

This last step was documented through a video that was acknowledged by UNICEF within the scope of the Ministerial program “Towards a friendly school for children and youngsters in 2015”.

Educational purposes

The skills, goals and training objectives selected by the teacher for this experience are shown below.

    • Execution
    • Composition
    Reading and Writing
    • Use of conventional analogic music notation
    Lower secondary school
    • Understands and evaluates events, materials, and musical works recognising their meanings, also in relation to his/her own musical experience and the different historical/sociological context.
    • Actively participating in music experiences through the execution and the interpretation of vocal and instrumental music pieces belonging to different genres and cultures.
    Reading and Writing
    • Integrating one’s own music experience with other knowledge and practices using appropriate codes and codification systems
Educational targets

The disciplinary competences worked on were as follows:

- development of the ability to reproduce a musical piece already existing, returning its characteristics consciously;
- development of the ability to manage one’s cognitive/body/emotional/relational dynamics in the performance during the video recording;
- development of the ability to express musical ideas through the construction of rhythmic and melodic ostinatos;
- development of the ability to coordinate body percussion movements on music, and to adjust movements to the velocity of the rhythm;
- development of the ability to write, read and transcribe music using the western rhythmic and melodic notation;
- development of the ability to give meaning to music proposals distant from the music usually listened to.

The transversal competences worked on were as follows:
- development of the sense of belonging to the group through ensemble music activities;
- development of the ability to work in a group;
- development of the ability to receive cultural diversity in one’s group of belonging.


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