Lesson #4 – Songs from Childhood

Time: 40-50 Minutes

Creator: Betsy Nolan, Musical Educator

Institution: Edmunds Elementary, Burlington, VT


What is this lesson about?

In this lesson students will listen to and describe a children’s song from another culture and compare and contrast a song from their own childhood with that song.

Learning Objectives:

Students will listen to and describe songs from Burma and Burundi.

Students will reflect on the songs from their childhoods.

Students will compare and contrast their childhood songs with the song presented at the beginning of class.

Students will explore how music is influenced by identity.

Lesson Plan: NNP #4

Section 1: Listening & Responding

Before saying anything about it, play the song once and ask students to listen with an open ear/mind, perhaps write down any reactions/thoughts/feelings they notice come up.

1. What do you hear? – Using the word bank, describe what you hear.  Do not share your feelings or opinions about the music.

Vocabulary Word Bank

Melody, harmony, major, minor, instruments, loud, soft, dynamics, tempo, beat rhythm, timbre, crescendo, decrescendo, form, verse, chorus, bridge, mood

2. Emotional Response:  Based on our group description, talk about how this music makes you feel and why.

3. What do you think this song may have been used for?

4. Provide contextual (i.e. historical, cultural, regional) information about the song and listen a second time.

Section 2: Engaging

Have students think back to the earliest songs they can remember.

What was the purpose of the song?

Have students report out their answers:

  • Who taught it to you?
  • What language was it in?
  • What style was it?
  • Was it like or unlike the Burmese lullaby? Why?
  • Was it like or unlike the Burundian children’s song?  Why?
  • What similarities were there?
  • What differences?
  • What surprised you about people’s responses?
  • Why did we come up with the similarities and differences we found?

Section 3: Social & Cultural practice

1. Imagine yourself as a very old man or woman.  You are taking care of some small children for a family friend or relative.  What songs would you teach to the children?  Why would you choose those songs?  What would you want the children to learn from the songs?

Section 4: Collective Reflection

Facilitate reflection, possibly stepping back except to record responses on the board, of what it was like to learn the song.

Possible prompts to give:

1. What songs were important to you as a young child?  What impact did your caretakers (parents, guardians, day care providers, nursery school teachers) have on the music you sang?

2.  In your imagination, teaching songs to young children as an old person, where were you?  How were you dressed?  What did the children look like?  What did your singing voice sound like?

Section 5: Taking it out into the World!

Offer students the opportunity to continue the conversation with their friends and family.  What songs do they remember from childhood?  Why?  Who taught them the songs? Do they now, or will they in the future teach the songs to other young people?

Vermont Framework of Standards


Students show understanding of music CONCEPTS and VOCABULARY by…

A7-8:14 Students analyze, interpret, and respond to art by…

A7-8:17 Students show understanding of how the arts impact life by…

A7-8:18 Students show understanding of how the arts shape and reflect various cultures and times by…


H&SS7-8:16 Students examine how different societies address issues of human interdependence by…

  • Describing aural examples of music using appropriate terminology (e.g., pitch, rhythm, tempo, dynamics, form, timbre, texture, articulation, harmony, phrasing, style).
  • Explaining qualities (elements, principles of design, expression) that may evoke emotion and meaning.
  • Relating varied interpretations of works of art using some or all of the following (e.g., observation, personal experience, cultural context).
  • Comparing/contrasting works of art, which may include a student’s own work.
  • Demonstrating an understanding of how the arts contribute to physical and mental health (e.g., self-expression, such as anger, joy, confusion, frustration).
  • Researching and describing how the arts reflect cultural values in various traditions throughout the world.
  • Analyzing how shared values and beliefs can maintain a subculture (e.g., political parties, religious groups). i
  • After examining issues from more than one perspective, defining and defending the rights and needs of others in the community, nation, and world (e.g. AIDS in Africa; One Child Policy in China; nuclear waste disposal). i
  • Analyze differences and similarities among people that arise from factors such as cultural, ethnic, racial, economic, and religious diversity, and describe their costs and benefits.


This is a Burmese lullaby. The words say: “Mommy it’s time to sleep, come and sleep near me, hold me and I can sleep on your arm. Can you tell me a story when I sleep, if you don’t tell me a story I’ll cry”  – Truetender Htun

The song in general means:

Burundian children are traditional dancers.
They value their Burundian culture
Many children among those traditional dancers, were born in the refugee camps,
They did not know well where they came from (their original countries)
But now they do.
They did not lose their culture though they were in hardships in refugee camps,
They struggled and they are still striving to regenerate their culture.

The song mentions children names, like “Agatha Arihehe.” This means Agatha is to come in front to tell the real story about Burundian culture of how they children dance, show up their style of dancing. Children know many different Burundian traditional dancing styles.

The chorus says: “Ntimurambirwe ni mubahe amashi,” which means:

“Don’t ever be discouraged by Burundian children when dancing, continue to support their dancing by clapping hands and many shouts.”

– from Aline Niyonzima