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Cambodian New Year Celebration (Music and Dance)  

Last Updated: May 27, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Traditional Instruments



This 3-lesson unit is intended for upper-elementary students (grades 2- 4) in general music classes. Students will explore themes and methods of celebration that are common in many cultures while learning to sing and play an instrumental accompaniment for a Cambodian song, and explore formal and informal dance traditions of the Cambodian culture. At the Murkland School, in Lowell, Massachusetts, this unit is part of a school-wide project that culminates in a celebration of Cambodian New Year in April to which families are invited. The celebration includes modeling of traditional and modern Cambodian dance, music, instruments, clothing, cuisine, and folklore.

  • Lesson One explores how and why people celebrate special days and holidays, specifically the New Year, both here in the United States and in Cambodia, and introduces a Khmer song of celebration commonly sung during the Cambodian New Year.
  • In Lesson Two students will explore the concepts of formal and informal dance, both in Cambodia and the United States and create and rehearse a simplified version of a traditional Khmer dance.
  • During Lesson 3 students will identify and describe the instruments commonly used in Cambodian music. Students will learn to perform a simple instrumental accompaniment to the song learned in lesson one, playing the melody on recorder and accompaniment on xylophones, drums and finger cymbals. These lessons may be implemented separately or as a unit, and should be introduced and developed over several class periods until students gain familiarity and competence with the melody, lyrics, instrumental accompaniment and dance.

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