Music & Geography: Around the World


Age Range: Elementary, Middle School

Learning Objective: Students will understand that music is a cultural expression by identifying characteristics of music from different cultures.

Free Downloads:

ENGAGE students

PLAY. Play a game. Ask students students to name a song, and then ask (or research) where it’s from. Repeat several times. If examples seem to all be from a very specific time or place, encourage them to think of a song from someplace else. After a few rounds, students will begin to draw the connection that music is a cultural expression, and that music comes from everywhere.

EXPLORE sounds

EXPLAIN. Show students a blank map of the world like this one. Explain that you will visit various locations. During each “visit” you will learn about a particular style of music that originated in that area. You may choose to execute this lesson briefly during one class or more thoroughly over several class periods.

CHOOSE.  Select locations/musical styles from the options below, or others of your own choosing. Once you select your places, mark the locations on a map.


  • Traditional Ojibwe singing-Minnesota/the Dakotas/Canada

  • Ragtime-St. Louis, MO

  • Mariachi-Mexico

  • Alpine yodeling-Switzerland/Austria

  • Raga-India

  • Tuvan throat singing-Mongolia

  • Kwv Thxiaj-Southeast Asia

  • Taiko- Japan

LEARN.  Choose a country to “visit.” Start by listening to music in that style. Using this printable worksheet, fill out a fact grid, so that students learn core characteristics of each style. You may present the material to students or have them do research on their own. Visit as many places as your time frame allows. The completed grid below is a sample and should be used as a starting point. For further guidance, download all eight completed grids.

Completed Grid - Ojibwe Singing
Sample Fact Grid
Katie Condon/MPR

EXTEND learning

RESEARCH. Continue researching countries/regions throughout the year. Customize the lesson by visiting a region that you or one of your students has lived in.

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Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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