Music is a uniquely human experience, and the music of different cultures provides a special way to get to know that culture.
Grade Level: Middle School (6th-8th)
Duration: 50 minutes
- Students will gain an understanding and appreciation of Spanish music.
- Students will be able to identify and describe different types of Spanish music.
- Students will be able to analyze the lyrics and instruments used in Spanish music.
- Computer and projector
- YouTube or Spotify access
- Worksheet (included at the end of this lesson plan)
Introduction (10 minutes):
- Begin the lesson by asking students what they know about Spanish music. Write their answers on the board.
- Explain that Spanish music has a rich history and cultural significance, and it is enjoyed by many people around the world.
- Show a video clip or play a song of Spanish music and ask students to listen carefully and write down their thoughts and feelings.
Traditional Spanish music is varied, being different in different regions of Spain and at different times. Instruments used in traditional Spanish music include not just the guitar, but also the bagpipe and drums.
Like so many traditional styles of music, jota is associated with a particular style of dance.
Flamenco may be the most famous style of music from Spain. It also is a style of dance, though the video below has music with no dancing.
Spain also has a tradition of classical music. Opera is popular, with one favorite Spanish opera being Puss in Boots. Disney’s film of Puss in Boots stars a Spanish cat, even though the original story is French. The Spanish opera was composed by Xavier Montsalvatge.
The videos below feature Spanish classical music from different time periods. The Monasterio piece is strongly influenced by Arabic music and is an example of the alhambrismo style. The Alhambra, a UNESCO cultural site, was the palace and fortress of the North African caliphs who ruled southern Spain in the Middle Ages.
Of course, Spain also has modern rock and pop music. Latin pop music (from Latin America and the United States) and jazz are also popular.
Body (30 minutes):
- Discuss different types of Spanish music such as flamenco, bolero, jota, zarzuela, sandara, and fandango as well as classical music.
- Play the videos above and ask students to listen carefully and write down the characteristics they notice, including instruments, rhythm, and melody.
- Have students work in pairs or small groups to research a specific type of Spanish music and create a short presentation about it. Encourage them to use visuals such as images and videos, and to include interesting facts and anecdotes.
- After each group has presented, have a class discussion about what they learned and how they can apply it to their lives.
Closure (10 minutes):
- Distribute the worksheet (included below) and have students complete it individually or in pairs.
- Review the worksheet as a class and answer any questions that arise.
- Conclude the lesson by asking students what they learned and how they can use this knowledge to appreciate and enjoy Spanish music.
- Participation in class discussion and group work
- Completion of worksheet
- Have students create a playlist of their favorite Spanish music and share it with the class.
- Invite a local Spanish music performer to visit the class and perform live.
- Have students learn to dance to a particular type of Spanish music and perform it for the class.
Image courtesy of Diego Delso under Creative Commons license