West African Book Review: Lord of the Dance

 

Music and dance are important parts of many cultures around the world. My philosophy is “explore music, explore the world.” I discovered the book, Lord of the Dance, through Kid World Citizen. They are doing an amazing series exploring the world through books! So I decided to join in and explore some art, music, and dance from Côte d’Ivoire.

Lord of the Dance is written and illustrated by Véronique Tadjo who is from Côte d’Ivoire, a West African country. Ms. Tadjo learned about the Senufo people and their culture while teaching.

This book is illustrated in the style of Senufo art. However, the traditional art used brown vegetable ink. Children can notice many different patterns in the art throughout the book. (It would be fun to do an art project of a mask or animal with different patterns drawn on the body. Maybe use a paper plate like they did on First Palette)

Cherie shared a sketch with you 51
One of the patterned illustrations from Lord of the Dance by Véronique Tadjo.

Lord of the Dance is great for thinking about how we can lose sight of the simpler things in life. The Mask is around from the beginning of time and is important in shaping the culture. It represents the spirit of the people and their traditions. Those traditions provide an anchor and a compass to navigate life.

Of course, I like this book because it touches on the role of music and dance in the Senufo culture. Specifically, the drums used for celebration and mourning. As a music teacher, I found the book great for getting children involved in making sound. There is a “Tom-tom-tom-tom-tom” refrain. I would have children repeat it back to me and drum on their knees or the floor. You could have children make their own drums, too!

Lord of the Dance is a unique poem and the illustrations offer a wonderful view into the Senufo culture. Véronique provides further explanation of the Mask and the Senufo people at the end of the book. I came up with many music activities based around Lord of the Dance. This is would be a great book to use to begin exploring West Africa.

Kids Read the World: Africa | Kid World Citizen

This post on children’s books about West Africa is part of a series from Kid World Citizen, gathering reviews of children’s books about the countries of Africa. Be sure to check out all the wonderful books and reviews!

 

ABCs of MUSICAL STYLES

While riding in the car, we may listen to music we like with our kids.  However, often parents find themselves with a variety of kids songs in the car and stuck in their heads.  “Baby Shark,” songs from Moana, Frozen, and many others.  These songs are fun, catchy, and important, kids should have an array of ‘kid-music’ to listen to.

However, there are reasons to play many styles of music for your kids.  As a matter of fact, you can even make an adventure of exploring new musical styles right along with them.  Music is a pretty awesome method for bringing different cultures into your home.

Think about blues or punk or salsa.  These music genres have their origins in very different people, places, and eras.  Imagine all the things you can explore with just those three genres, different fashion, ideas, historical events, and more!

If you’re not sure how or where to start.  I’m here to help! 🙂  I’ll be going through different genres from A-Z with the ABCs of Musical Styles.  This will be a series of videos that will focus on both a letter of the alphabet and a music genre that starts with that letter.  We will dive right into the who, what, when, and why as well as how does the music sound.

Check out the first video, ‘A is for ALTERNATIVE ROCK Pt. 1’ below and follow on Facebook or Instagram (@musicallytrained) as we go through each genre and explore in a way that is fun and accessible for the whole family.

 

What can children learn from Disco (or any music genre)?

Genres take form in certain time periods and are often a reflection or reaction to events going on in societies and cultures.  Disco is no exception!  Disco began to form in the mid-sixties and became really popular in the seventies.  It is a genre that, I would say, came about as a reaction to events and perceptions of those decades.

A lot of people associate disco with excess. Hopefully we don’t define the music or culture by this, even as this aspect reflects societal factors. Things to remember, The Vietnam War was in full swing, African Americans were still fighting for their rights as were women and LGBTQ communities.  Who wouldn’t want a place to have fun and feel accepted considering all of this?!

Talking about and exploring disco music offers an avenue for introducing children to some of the historical events mentioned above as well as discussions about acceptance and tolerance.

Disco also combined and sampled from different movements, musical styles, and cultures.  It had Latin influences, hippy and psychedelic influences, R&B/soul and more.  So, once again, it offers a starting point to talk about these subjects.  You could also move through history and show how we got to disco (or any music genre).

The most obvious benefit of any genre is music education.  Usually there are instruments or attributes that are prominent in certain genres.  This allows an avenue for children to take a more indepth look at these instruments, techniques, and attributes.

This site will work through many genres, starting with classical and moving forward in the coming months.  However in the coming weeks, since I’ve been working a lot on disco, I will be posting blogs that touch on different aspects of disco music and culture and how to use them to round out music, history, and cultural education for the young student.

We’ll start with this video that spends a day with Mike.  It will briefly give children a glimpse into what events caused people to have an attraction to disco music and culture.

Click the image to watch the video
Click the image to watch the video