Holi Music Lesson Ideas for Elementary

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, is a Hindu festival that celebrates the arrival of spring and the victory of good over evil. It’s a time for spreading love, joy, and happiness, and what better way to do that than through music! I am not of a culture that celebrates Holi, so I’ve compiled some resources from culture bearers that you can incorporate into your Holi music lesson. Remember, if you can partner with culture bearers in your school community, even better!

Give Students Some Background

This will be specific to your own students. Personally, I didn’t find out about Holi until college, and I know most of my students had never heard of it either. I like to use a combination of books and videos to introduce students to new cultures and holidays. Books are fun and imaginative, but seeing real-world examples really drives it home.

Personally, I like Festival of Colors by Kabir and Surishtha Sehgal and Holi Hai by Chitra Soundar.

Also check out this video from CBeebies:

Learn About Traditional Indian Instruments

I get so excited about teaching instruments from around the world! Unfortunately, unless you have access to traditional Indian instruments, you may have to work with what you have. (If you’re lucky enough to have a university near you, see if they have instruments they would loan you or performers who would be willing to come to your school. This is something student groups may often do!)

One option is to reinforce the concept of grouping instruments by method of sound production. This also provides an opportunity to discuss whether or not the orchestral instrument family sorting system works for all instruments. Some traditional Indian instruments to discuss during a Holi music lesson might be the tabla, sitar, bansuri, sarod, or harmonium.

Incorporate Song and Dance

Singing and dancing are core parts of many celebrations worldwide, and Holi is no exception. A staple that my students have loved every year (and even asked to go back to!) is this dance by Miss Priya:

She now has a few more options as well, so feel free to browse her account. My 3rd graders loved her so much when they were in 2nd grade that they begged to do her Diwali dance. (So of course, we did!)

I love how Miss Priya describes each move with imagery. It really helps the kids keep up. I also think it helps inspire kids to come up with their own dance moves! Consider playing either this same song or another one and having students create their own moves. This can help reinforce music concepts like form while also working on creative movement and dance concepts like mood, negative space, and high/middle/low space.

I hope this helped to inspire you as you create your own holi music lessons. Remember, Holi is a happy springtime celebration, so most of all – have fun!

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