Nowruz is a traditional Persian New Year celebrated on the spring equinox. It is a time of renewal and joy, and is celebrated by millions of people around the world. As an elementary music teacher, it’s important to introduce your students to different cultures and traditions, and what better way to do that than through music? In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can teach about Nowruz in your elementary music classroom.
Explore Nowruz Instruments
Nowruz music is often played on traditional Persian instruments such as the santoor, tar, and daf. Introduce these instruments to your students and let them experiment with playing them, if you’re able to get your hands on some! You can also bring in other percussion instruments, such as hand drums or tambourines, to accompany the music. Even better if you’re able to bring in live performers!
This is a great opportunity to practice sorting instruments into instrument families based on their characteristics. After playing the instruments and/or watching performance videos, students can use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast them. They can also try sorting them into instrument families – either orchestral instrument families or their own!
Sing and Dance to Nowruz Music
Iranians will take any excuse to sing and dance! So Nowruz obviously involves a lot of it. Iran is home to many ethnic groups, each with their own traditions and dance styles. Check out the Kurdish halparke or Persian bandari. Notice the emphasis on different movements and parts of the body. Persians, for example, are very expressive with their hands!
In my Nowruz virtual field trip, we explore both traditional Iranian dancing as well as a more modern twist by Norwegian dance group QuickStyle. This is one of their four Persian-inspired hip hop performances. Students love seeing the combination of familiar and unfamiliar moves and easily become inspired to create their own dances in ABA form!
Practice Rhythms with Nowruz Words
My students love learning words in new languages to them. The seven items of the traditional Nowruz haft-sin are a perfect opportunity to practice some words in Persian (which you may sometimes hear referred to as Farsi – Persian is the correct term in English). One way is to practice using ta and ti-ti with beat strips since, conveniently, all the core haft-sin items fit into these rhythms easily!
Another way to incorporate rhythm into Nowruz vocabulary is with aural identification. I like to let students open their (virtual) presents from Amoo Nowruz (Uncle New Year), who plays a similar role to Santa Claus. Amoo Nowruz helps them identify which rhythm matches each of their gifts!
In conclusion, teaching Nowruz music in your elementary music classroom is a great way to introduce your students to different cultures and traditions. By researching and listening to Nowruz music, exploring traditional instruments, and teaching rhythms using a new language, your students will gain an appreciation for the beauty of cultures around the world.
Overwhelmed by all the options? I get it. That’s why I created this Nowruz virtual field trip. As a second generation Iranian-American, I’m excited to share my beautiful culture and support the brave revolutionaries within Iran. That’s why 100% of proceeds from the sale of this virtual field trip will go to The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center to support human rights and democracy in Iran.