Classroom Activities

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES – PRE and POST

PRE-PERFORMANCE ACTIVITIES:

Introduce students to good theater behavior:

  • Watching and listening to the performance without speaking.
  • Remaining seated during the entire performance.
  • Responding appropriately by applauding during and after the performance

Discuss theater etiquette with the class. What is expected of a polite audience member? Discuss and list students’ responses and suggestions. Assist students with some leading questions.

Make Adinkra prints. Instead of the traditional stamps carved from a calabash, a potato or eraser or even a sponge can be used. Look for some traditional patterns to use. Kits are available in many bookstores. Discuss how these fabrics are used traditionally

Read some Anansi stories. Anansi the spider can be found in many books and is a universal hero. Ask the students to write one of their own stories using Anansi as the hero, or to draw pictures of him. Compare to Coyote in Native American legends. Or compare to Brer Rabbit stories. Have the students write the story and draw a picture to illustrate it.

Introduce the call-and-response concept. Allow students to explore this concept by working in pairs to create their own call- and -response songs. Have some children teach their song to the class.

POST PERFORMANCE ACTIVITIES:

Think about the instruments used by the performers. What did they look like-draw a picture.

How did they sound? Make a list of descriptive words for the performance.

Write a group story about the performance. How was it different from the music we are used to hearing? How was it similar? What rhythms were used in the music? Have the students draw pictures to accompany the story they write.

Research different types of percussion instruments and compare them to the ones used in this program. What characteristics do all percussion instruments share? What different types of items are used to make the sound come from the instruments? What other cultures use drums in their music?

As explained in the performance, music is a very important part of African daily life. Have the students list what functions music and dance have in our lives. Some answers might be: church or temple, weddings, Christmas, parades, parties, dances….How can we include more music and dance in our lives?

VOCABULARY WORDS

Culture – the collective customs and accomplishments of a particular people or group.

Ethnic – of or relating to a group of people who share racial, linguistic, religious, or cultural ties.

Heritage – a country or area’s history; cultural traditions that pass from one generation to another.

Pan-African – relating to all nations or people of African descent collectively; advocating freedom and independence to all people of Africa.

Traditional – something based on tradition. Customary, long-established and time-honored.

Patrilineal – tracing descent through males

Matrilineal – inherited or traced through the women’s line of descent

Percussion – the group of musical instruments that produce sound by being struck, including drums and cymbals, or the section of the orchestra playing such instruments

Polyrythm – a technique of musical composition in which several contrasting rhythms are used simultaneously. This is very typical of African music.

High life  – a style of music that blends West African features with American jazz forms and is popular in West Africa

Wonche – a spiritual healer in Ga culture in Ghana.

Master drummer – a drummer who has learned and excels at all the drumming parts of each piece of music. He not only knows his own parts but can play and teach everything else that makes up a traditional song.