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Finding the Beat Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0201
Source: School Library Media Activities Monthly, (6:6, February 1990)

Grade Levels : 7, 8


  • Arts/Music

Library Media Skills Objectives:

The student will locate music books and recordings related to the rhythm of music from various countries.

Curriculum (subject area) Objectives:

This activity may be integrated into music unit on rhythm in popular music or a social studies unit on the modern music various countries.


This activity requires access to modern popular recordings.
The public library may be helpful in locating appropriate records.

Instructional Roles:

This activity may be used jointly by the classroom teacher, library media specialist, and music teacher, who may decide how the responsibilities will be divided.

Activity and Procedures for Completion:

The students may be introduced to this activity using Paul Simon’s album, Graceland. The students may be asked to listen to the rhythm and beat of the songs. They may discuss the instruments that they hear. Information from the album may be shared. Students may be asked to consider the roots of the music they listen to on the radio and see on MTV. They will concentrate on rhythm in this activity, but they may be told that they could examine harmony, melody, tone, styles, etc. in a similar way. Students may discuss the role of popular music in the lives of people in the United States and its role in other countries.

The classroom teacher may divide the students into teams of three or four members. The team assignment is to listen to popular music and to collect examples of rhythms originating in other countries. Samples may be set up in a listening station in the classroom or library media center. Music reference sources may also be placed in the listening center, so that students can develop a rhythm database.

In the library media center, the students will listen to many of the popular recordings and identify the origins of the rhythms. The library media specialist may introduce students to music reference sources and recordings. The sources may be placed near the listening center for use in developing the database. The database (AppleWorks, etc.) may be developed to include a description of the rhythm, country of origin, name of musicians, music titles, producer of recording, etc. At the end of the two weeks, a list of the categories, countries, and examples will be printed before a team play-off contest.

Additionally, if local experts are available, they may be asked to speak to the music class. After the students complete their listening research, they will study the lists and listen to examples of the identified rhythms. The library media specialist, music teacher, and classroom teacher may prepare sets of questions and musical excerpts for the students playing as teams in a Name The Origin of That Rhythm Contest Play-Off.

Sample Dance Beats Originating in Other Countries :

Algeria: Rai
Cheb Khaled Moule el Kouchi (Celluloid)
Antilles: Zouk
Kassav’ Vini Pou (Columbia)
Cameroon: Makossa
Manu Dibango Soul Makossa (Atlantic)
Haiti: Soca
David Rudder This Is Soca (Sire)
Indonesia: Degung
E. Koestyara and Group Gapura Sangkala (Icon)
Indonesia: Jaipong
Idjah Hadidjah Tongerret (Nonesuch)
Nigera: Afrobeat
Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Black President (Arista)
Nigeria: Juju
King Sunny Ade Synchro System (Mango)
Sengal: Mbalax
Yousou N’Dour Imigres (Virgin)
South Africa: Mbaqanga
Paul Simon Graceland (Warner)
Julu Zive (Earth Works)
South Africa: Mbube
Ladysmith Black Mambazo Journey of Dreams (Warner Brothers)
Zaire: Soukous
Tabu Ley Rochereau Rochereau (Shanachie)
Zimbabwe: Chimurenga
Zimbabwe Frontline (Virgin)
Zimbabwe: Jit-Jive
Bhundu Boys True Jit (Mango)

Following the contest playoff, the classroom teacher and students may discuss how music from one country may appear in the music of another country. The students may also discuss why libraries should collect, preserve, and lend recordings of music.

Evaluation :

The student will locate music from various countries and identify rhythms. Each student will find at least one example of a rhythm from another country and enter that information in a database.

The student may:

  • Locate appropriate music video programs for some of the recordings which they have identified.
  • Based on information from J. D. Considine. Dancing to a Different Beat, Baltimore Sun,1989.

These integrated lesson plans and suggestions for teaching library and information skills in connection with various classroom subject areas are provided by LMS Associates and were originally published in School Library Media Activities Monthly. Lessons may be used for the non-commercial purpose of education. All materials are held in copyright by LMS Associates for the magazine, School Library Media Activities Monthly. For more information, contact, LMS Associates; 17 E. Henrietta Street; Baltimore, MD 21230 410-685-8621.