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A taste of African music

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 2
  • Subjects: Music
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 30
  • Venue: International Slavery Museum


Guided by an experienced member of our education team, pupils investigate our handling collection of African musical instruments. They find out what sounds the instruments make and what part of Africa they come from. They will also learn about their usages and the materials they are made from, in order to compare the instruments to those found in other parts of the world.  Sessions are available at 10.15am, 11.30am and 1.15pm.

The next sessions are available on the following dates:

  • 17 and 18 November 2016
  • 12 and 13 January 2017
  • 9 and 10 February 2017
  • 8 and 9 March 2017

Further details

two girls with drums

© Jenny Baptiste 

In traditional African societies musical instruments are an integral part of most communities. They vary not only from country to country but also from village to village. However, there are common features in African music. It forms a big part of African life and has an important role to play in society. Songs are used for religious ceremonies, rituals, to teach, to tell stories and to mark the stages of life and death.

Under the guidance of the workshop leader, students are given the chance to play these incredible instruments from our handling collection, including a variety of African drums, shakers, a balaphone and a kora. Students learn a variety of call and response rhythms and discover what they sound like when played together.

A self-led tour of the International Slavery Museum is an optional part of your visit. Gallery trails are available from the International Slavery Museum website.

Curriculum links

Key Stage 2 - Music

  • Perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions.
  • Understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • Gain knowledge of a number of different African instruments.
  • Understand the use of natural materials to make these objects.
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of characteristic features of periods and societies of the past.
  • Understand how instruments can be used to communicate important information. 


Pupils will:

  • Learn a variety of call and response rhythms.
  • Improve their listening skills.
  • Learn how different sounds can work together to create music.


Pupils will be introduced to:

  • The significance of instruments in African societies.
  • Use of music for different occasions.
  • Being able to create music using natural resources.


Pupils will:

  • Be inspired by the incredible instruments we have in our collections.
  • Be enthused by the richness of African culture.
  • See the International Slavery Museum as an enjoyable and creative place to visit.