The Importance of Using Music from Other Cultures

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 47 – 25th October 2007

Welcome to Kidz Newz especially to all new subscribers.  Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children.  You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list.  Thank you.  Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to.

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New Book

The much anticipated second book in the Kidz-Fiz-Biz series has finally arrived!  It is called Kidz-Fiz-Biz MULTICULTURAL.  Subtitle is ‘learning about other cultures through drama, dance and song’.  All the rhymes, fingerplays and music are in foreign languages with translation into English.  It contains loads of activities and is fully illustrated.  The music is fantastic and I’m sure teachers and children alike will find it great fun. 

For details of this and other products, please go to

The Importance of Using Music from Other Cultures

Music is a universal language. Teaching the music, songs and dances of other cultures should simply be another aspect of the music and movement program, integrated quite naturally on a daily basis.  In the home setting, if another language is not spoken, exposing children regularly to the sounds of another language through music is a good idea.

Young children learn by being actively involved in the process, through exploring and experimenting, through copying and acting out.  And so it is with learning music, including the music (and language) of another culture, the foundations for which are best learnt while developing primary language.  As such, a successful early childhood music program must incorporate movement (including dance) and should quite naturally involve learning across the curriculum.  The music program, therefore, including music from other cultures, can and should form the basis for the whole curriculum. It is important to bear in mind that not every child will naturally take to singing or learning to play a musical instrument, but EVERY child has the right to a musical education. Physical expression through dance and drama is the way some children prefer to enjoy their musical experience. How wonderful to extend that experience by using the dances, the music and the costumes from another culture.

In musical interpretation there should be no pressure on the child to ‘get it right’ because there is no right or wrong but simply the joy of participation. It is for this reason that the creative arts are such successful bridges to learning. More importantly, when a child feels successful at something, enjoys it and is not stressed by it, the child gains enormous confidence. The more you can extend the creative arts experience, the better.

In exposing children to other cultures in a positive and affirming way they gain awareness, understanding and acceptance of others. They need to be made aware that somewhere in another corner of the world children are also singing songs, chanting rhymes, playing games, dancing and generally having fun.  In this way inherent social values are gained, especially discovering that difference simply means diversity.  Thus, it encourages a sense of harmony and inclusion rather than discrimination and distrust.

Furthermore, studies show that exposing children to the sound, rhythm and intonation of language and music from diverse cultures assists them to discriminate between sounds. This assists with the acquisition of linguistic skills, which are so vital to their future. Listening is a skill that needs to be taught. Listening to the sounds of another language encourages concentration as little brains (and big ones too) try to differentiate and make meaning from the apparent jumble of noise. In time, it starts to make sense, in the same way that as babies, we all learnt to understand the spoken word. Introducing children to Languages Other Than English (LOTE) through the songs and rhymes of other cultures, cannot start soon enough. Far from confusing children with their mother tongue, it actually enhances the learning of their mother tongue.

It is because I feel so strongly about the importance of multicultural music that I compiled the Kidz-Fiz-Biz MULTICULTURAL book.  If you don’t already have a copy, I recommend you take a look at your local bookstore or by going to

Quotes of the Week

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.  Angela Monet

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.  Billy Joel

No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.   Mahatma Gandhi


Can the English language survive after Bush?

“Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children. ”   
 “It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”   
“To those of you who received honours, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States.”

George W. Bush


“What a wonderful resource for teachers. Lots of variety and our songs sit well in
the mix you have. Congratulations.” Tessa M Grigg ‘ Tessarose Productions

‘It was all great.  It was useful to learn the small things to make every exercise appropriate for small children.’  Liz Randolph ‘ DADAA

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

57 Henry Lawson Walk, East Perth WA 6004
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: 0410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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