Life skills and academic achievement through music and culture.

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Living Rhythms

E-Learning Program

This engaging and experiential E-Learning program immerses students in the music and culture of West Africa. Specifically designed around the Common Core, participants play along with drums available in their music classrooms, or with found-object instruments such as desktops, tabletops, boxes, etc. While learning rhythms that represent the traditions of West Africa, students integrate multiple Anchor Standards for Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language, Social Studies, and Arts Education.

The Living Rhythms E-Learning program broadens students’ understanding our increasingly interdependent world, and encourages them to embrace a life of empowerment and critical thinking. While learning to play the traditional music of West Africa, students practice values like focus, listening, respect, community, and teamwork. This program enhances students’ success in academics, and in life.

Program Information

How it Works:
The Living Rhythms E-Learning course consists of a series of instructional videos found on a website easily accessible with a simple password. In addition to the videos, teachers, and students also have access to a number of downloadable pdf resources, including background information about the history and culture of the drums, plus lesson plans ideas for teachers.

Technical Requirements:
The web address and password can be distributed to students and teachers via email or any other means of communication. The materials can be viewed from any device with an internet connection (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop). Students are encouraged to play along with drums available in their music classrooms, or with found-object instruments such as desktops, tabletops, boxes, etc.

Grade Level Recommended:
There are two E-Learning courses with differentiated instruction for K-12.

Number of Students Who Can Participate: Unlimited

Days of Week & Instructional Time:
To provide maximum flexibility for various school and classroom schedules, the videos are available online anytime students or teachers wish to log in. The lessons remain available for an entire semester (Aug – Dec, Jan – Jun, Jun-Aug) unless otherwise stated in your contract.

Common Core Connections


R4 – “Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.”

In our case, students identify and respond to key rhythmic phrases that occur in the genre of West African drumming which convey instructions to the musicians to start, stop or change the music.

R7 – “Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.”

In our case, students evaluate the number and pitch of notes in a rhythmic pattern played on a drum, and demonstrate the ability to integrate the pattern to the degree that the pattern can be reinterpreted and repeated back.

Speaking and Listening

SL1 – “Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively”

In our case, students responding to a rhythmic idea by creating a complementary pattern, thereby collaborating with fellow participants to create a musical conversation.



K-P.MR.1 – “Understand the interacting elements to respond to music and music performances.”

In our case, students learn various rhythmic patterns from traditional West African cultures, along with traditional songs that accompany the rhythms. Students also learn musical principles such as polyrhythm, meter, tempo, pitch and dynamics


2.C.1 – “Understand how various cultures influence communities.”

In our case students explore the physical and social environments of other cultures, becoming more aware of interdependence, responsibility and individual worth through the study of other cultures. Students learn to understand and respect cultural pluralism.