As a music teacher, you know that keeping middle school students engaged and interested in learning can be a complex task. But introducing world music into your curriculum can be a game-changer. Not only does teaching world music add a fascinating layer of cultural diversity to your music classes, but it also helps your students develop a deeper understanding of the world. 


In this blog post, you will be shown the significance of teaching world music in your own classroom and there will be five valuable resources that will make teaching world music a breeze this year. Whether you’re a seasoned music teacher or just starting your music teaching journey, these world music curriculum resources are designed to meet your needs and keep your middle school students enthusiastic about music.


What is World Music?

The Oxford Dictionary defines World Music as a…


“Term generally understood to mean music falling outside classical and pop traditions of Western Europe and North America, although it may include folk music of those regions. First coined by ethnomusicologists in the 1960s to refer generally to folk and classical musics of non-Western world, it became appropriated by the music industry in 1980s to describe fusion of local ethnic styles with commercial pop music of the West and as such became a distinct musical category in itself. Today both definitions are current and overlap substantially”.


So what does that mean for you as an educator?


World music is an opportunity to showcase a diverse and vibrant collection of musical expression that includes an array of musical styles, genres, and traditions from across the globe. By including world music in your lessons, you will introduce your music students to the sounds and rhythms of different cultures, offering a richer perspective on the universal language of music.



5 Reasons Why You Should Teach About World Music

As a music teacher, you know that what you teach in your classroom is important in shaping how your students see the world. Personally, when I went through school in the 1980s (I know, I am showing my age!). The music topics I was taught were very narrow in focus. Most of my musical education was centered on the Western European Music Tradition, and honestly I do not ever recall a lesson where we were shown anything from outside of this narrow musical focus.

As a music teacher, I knew that I didn’t want to focus all of my own teaching  on the same way that I was taught. I had been lucky enough to be a part of an African Djembe Drumming Group, and I performed with this group for about 10 years. It was during this time that I wanted to introduce the world of African Drumming to my own classes, mainly because I had so much fun myself, that I wanted my kids to experience the joy of making a lot of noise too!

After trying out teaching world music myself, I decided to continue and branch out each year into another musical culture. There were many reasons that these lessons were a success, but mainly it was due to the fact that these lessons showed my students what music from other cultures was all about, and by broadening their musical experience, it ultimately broadened other aspects of them as a student as well. Below are some of the reasons why it is important to include cultural diversity in your music classrooms through teaching world music.


5 Resources to Use to Teach World Music

You might feel that incorporating world music into your music curriculum may be challenging, but we’ve got you covered with a set of classroom tested resources that will make teaching world music easier. 

The World Music Lessons and Worksheets Bundle is designed with middle school and general music teachers in mind. It includes the following valuable resources:


Below are more details about each part of the World Music Bundle. 

Link to the World Music Bundle here



World Instruments Classroom Decor

Enhancing your classroom with the World Instruments Classroom Decor is a great way to immerse your students in world music from day one. These visuals serve as a dynamic and engaging backdrop for your world music lessons. You can use these resources to create a vibrant, multicultural learning environment. Display the posters and decorations throughout your classroom to spark curiosity and conversations about various world music instruments. You might even want to try a weekly or monthly “World Music Instrument of the Week” display, where students learn about a different instrument’s origin, sound, and cultural significance. This resource encourages students to become more inquisitive about the world’s diverse music and serves as a conversation starter for your lessons.

Link to the World Music Instrument Bulletin Board Kit here



World Music Lessons and Worksheets

The World Music Lessons and Worksheets is a full unit plan resource that offers a comprehensive set of lesson plans and worksheets designed to simplify your world music teaching experience. These materials come with ready-made lesson plans, making it easy for you to introduce various world music styles and instruments. Use these resources to explore different regions of the world and their musical traditions. Included in the resource are listening exercises where students analyze and discuss the sounds and rhythms of a variety of music from around the world. There are also opportunities for hands-on activities such as group projects where students research and present on a specific world music genre or instrument. This collection of world music worksheets can be used for a single lesson or a whole term.

Link to the World Music Lessons & Worksheets here



World Music Instrument Study Worksheets

The World Music Instrument Study Worksheets are a valuable addition to your world music curriculum. These simple research worksheets will help your music students discover the details of world music instruments, allowing your students to develop a deeper understanding of the instruments’ history, construction, and cultural significance. Try using these worksheets for in-depth instrument studies, or assign each student or group a specific instrument to research and present to the class. If you can, try incorporating hands-on experiences by bringing in actual world music instruments for your students to examine and play. 

Link to the World Music Instrument Study Worksheets here



African Music Composition Project

The African Music Composition Project  is an excellent way to engage students in a hands-on performance and composition inspired by African folk music melodies. You can use this project as a vehicle to teach your students about the rhythms, melodies, and instruments commonly found in African music. Try encouraging your students to listen to and analyze traditional African music, by identifying rhythmic and melodic patterns and other unique features. Then, have students compose their own African-inspired music pieces using percussion instruments or digital music tools. This project can be integrated into a larger unit on African music, history, and culture, allowing students to explore the deeper context of the music they create.

Link to the African Music Composition Project here



World Music Instrument Match it Cards

The World Music Instrument Match it Cards provide an interactive and educational resource for your music classroom. You can use these cards for engaging games and activities that challenge students to match world music instruments with their names, origins, and sounds. This matching game is best used when students work in pairs or small groups to match the instrument cards with their corresponding descriptions. You can also use these cards as a quick warm-up activity at the start of each class, reinforcing what students have learned about world music instruments. Additionally, these cards make for a fantastic review resource before assessments, helping students solidify their knowledge of world music instruments.


Link here to the What is Timbre Blog Post for more information on instrument classification


Link here to the World Music Instruments Match It Cards


These cards are perfect to use with the Free Elements of Music Mind Maps! Try having your students classify the different world instruments into different musical categories with the Instrument Classification Mind Maps. This lesson could make for an interesting discussion as students justify their decisions to classify an instrument in a certain way. 


You can get a copy of the FREE Mind Maps here.


elements of music mind map image for optin


Incorporating these resources into your world music curriculum not only simplifies your teaching experience but also enhances your students’ engagement and understanding of diverse musical traditions from around the world. Whether it’s through classroom decor, comprehensive lesson plans, instrument study, composition projects, or interactive games, these resources provide a dynamic toolkit for a well-rounded world music education.

Teaching world music in your middle school classroom can be a transformative experience for both you and your students. It’s not just about introducing diverse musical traditions from around the globe; it’s about fostering a deeper understanding of the world, promoting inclusivity, and breaking down stereotypes. 

By incorporating the five resources from our World Music Lessons and Worksheets Bundle, you’ll make teaching world music a seamless and enjoyable part of your music curriculum. So why wait? Explore our World Music Bundle and make this year’s music education experience truly exceptional. Your students will thank you for it!


Until next time

Happy Teaching

Julia from Jooya


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