Music is powerful: it can uplift the soul, move people to tears, inspire dance, and transform the mood of a whole room. Music also becomes a great teaching tool in the hands of one award-winning world music performer.
Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou has developed a unique approach to opening children’s minds to global cultures. She starts her concerts by letting children play with odd instruments from around the world, such as an Afro-Peruvian instrument made from the jaw of a donkey (quijada de burro), an Andean instrument made from the toenails of goats (chapchas), and an African instrument made from a dried gourd strung with beads or seeds (shekere).
Daria says: “I introduce kids to singing bowls from Tibet, talking drums from Africa, bone guiros from Mexico, and Middle Eastern drums— unique instruments that provide opportunities for kids to interact.”
At Daria’s concerts, children will swarm around the drums and instruments to touch or play them. They’ll ask, “Why do they use that?” or “What does that mean?” The experience offers a great place to begin meaningful conversations about cultures as well as encouraging respect and interest, instead of fear and ignorance.
“Not once has a child said, ‘Ewww!’ or ‘Yuck!’ about the cultures of origin,” says Daria. “This really has confirmed the statement that I believe: ‘No child is born a racist.’’
“When I see the wonder and excitement in their eyes, I know it’s possible for them to take this feeling about musical instruments that are fun to play and translate it to cultures that they will experience as they go through their day in their own community.”
This multiple Parent’s Choice and Grammy-nominated artist has recorded and released 7 children’s music CDs, published 3 books and multiple “music around the world” mini-courses, and makes many of her materials available free to educators and parents through a site called TeachersPayTeachers.
Written by Maria Wen Adcock of Bicultural Mama