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Music Around the World: A Newport County Youth Chorus Program

By Elizabeth Woodhouse

In the Newport County Youth's “Music from around the World” Chorus program, second -fourth graders participated in a six-week program, where the singers learned songs from faraway places such as South Africa, Angola and Mexico. They also sang in languages such as Xhosa (one of the eleven official languages of South Africa), Spanish and Navajo.

Singing music from other places—especially those they have never traveled to—exposes children to new ideas and helps them feel connected to cultures they have not encountered. Not only were the children singing authentic music from these countries, they also learned about those cultures’ instruments and dances that accompanied the music.

Music from around the world

In “Mrs. Galo,” a Xhosa song from South Africa, the singers are learning that movement is almost always a part of the musical performance. In this song, they show gratitude to Mrs. Galo, a principal at a South African school.

"Hozhonji Song” is a Navajo piece that shares the belief that the earth is beautiful and that it should be honored and respected. In Navajo music, drums and rattles often accompany the singing, which the children have added to their performance. They also learned that Navajo music is sometimes used therapeutically to soothe and heal those who are ailing.

“O Desayo” is a lively greeting song from Angola, a country in West Africa with a heavy Portuguese influence.

Finally, the singers are learning “Tecolote,” a Spanish lullaby from Mexico, which imitates the “little owl” to help soothe the child to sleep.

Capping each session with a performance celebration

“Music from around the World” is offered twice during the week: Tuesdays at the Martin Luther King Community Center and Wednesdays at St. Mary’s Church in Portsmouth. Both groups will share a special performance of the music they have learned for families and friends directly following the last class.

Stay tuned for the next six-week program starting at the end of April/beginning of May called “All that Jazz!” All are welcome to join! Visit our website for more info and to sign up.

To see pictures from one of these performances, visit this month's photo blog here.

About NCYC

Since its inception in September 2017, Newport County Youth Chorus has become an beloved extracurricular opportunity offered to students across Newport County. Participants range in age from second to sixth grade. To learn more about Newport County Youth Chorus and our involvement with the youth of our community, visit our website.

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