Found Folk Music

(This lesson was originally printed in Share the Music, 7th grade edition.  It has been adapted to provide flexibility to students and the teacher.)


Objectives:                          Using the concepts of instrument creation and found instruments, students will           

                                            create a style-appropriate rhythm accompaniment to a familiar folk song.


Standards:                           Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

                                                Composing and arranging music within specific guidelines


Materials:                            Selection of folk-songs that the students have previously learned

                                                Items from the students’ homes, and various classroom instruments






And Expertise:                   Prior to this assignment, students should know several short folk songs and

                                            understand different rhythms (level of rhythmic difficulty does not matter).


Day 1:

1.          Divide students into groups of 4-5.  Have each group select from a group of    

             songs they have learned in class.



2.                   Explain that students must create a 4-measure rhythmic accompaniment to the piece, to be repeated throughout the song.  Let students create these in class, and practice them when completed.



3.                   Once students have created their rhythmic patterns, inform them that they will be performing these accompaniments on instruments made by combining one object found at home with one of the classroom instruments.  No two people in a group may use the same items.   Students must create a sound that will fit their song.  Have students examine the lyrics of their songs.  Is there a mention of a specific kind of sound?  Does the song contain metallic noises, such as a bell or a hammer?  What about wooden sounds?  What items do they think would work with this piece?  Will every instrument play every note, or would some sounds work well in a solo section?


4.                   Give students the following homework assignment:  each student must find an item to bring into the next music class to use with a classroom instrument, and he/she must write a paragraph about why the combined items and instruments fit the group’s song.


Day 2:

5.                   Collect the paragraph assignments, then arrange students into their groups with their instruments. 


6.                   Give students an opportunity to share their instruments with group members and to practice performing their rhythm patterns on their instruments.


7.                   Bring each group to the classroom’s performance area and let them introduce their song and their instruments.  Students will perform their accompaniments solo (just one time through four measures), and then perform while the rest of the class sings the song.



Assessment:           The students successfully create and perform  a 4-measure rhythm pattern.

                                    The students bring in instruments and defend their choice of instrument in its relation

                                    to the folk song.



*If desired, the teacher may follow these performances by introducing composer Harry Partch and his instrument creations and by playing Partch’s Delusion of the Fury as an example.