Global Sounds

Music daily from around the world in your school

Start your school day with us, exploring the wonderfully diverse yet universally connected musical sounds from across the globe. You'll be inspired by the elements of nature, the very essence of what inspires art and life!

What is it?

This program is a daily international music listening program—a creative, fun and easy way to support the cultural literacy curriculum at your school; provide daily immersion in the rich musical sounds from across the globe; and engage students in history and geography through the arts.

The Global Sounds pilot program is SIX weeks of music listening for elementary school students that is meant to be played over the school intercom at the start of the day to the entire student body, as part of morning announcements. It's a wonderful way to begin the day—with a musical spark of inspiration that sets your students up for success. We will provide the music as well as short scripts that can be read by a student or teacher prior to the music being played.  

What we provide

  • A diverse selection of music recordings
  • Daily scripts that delve into cultural exploration and creative thinking questions
  • Dig Deeper resources—optional resources for teachers and students to learn more


“If you want to understand music better, you can do nothing more important than listen to it. Nothing can possibly take the place of listening to music.”

Aaron Copland

Music + Culture: “… Whenever humans come together for any reason, music is there,” writes Daniel Levitin.  We agree—music has the capacity to tap into the richest parts of our lives.  What better way to learn about other people and places in the world than to experience them through music.  By listening to music we are learning about the world around us—not just about music, but about history, geography, language, and culture. 

"For me, music is an end unto itself but also a way of representing every aspect of the human experience. - Moby

Music + Creative Thinking: We have built into this program specific creative thinking exercises designed to strengthen your students’ original and critical thinking. Instead of rattling off a list of historical facts about a piece, we have set up each daily discussion to help students deeply and personally relate to the music and engage with the ideas.

Testimonials from a similar program

“The students feel motivated to be creative, thus developing their imagination and ability to think outside the box…this continuous musical exposure has resulted in better auditory attention as well as an increase in intellectual curiosity…the students have adopted it happily into their daily morning routine.” – Ms. Sylvia, teacher at Sheridan Way Elementary School (Ventura, CA)

“The program has helped our students increase their listening skills…[they] have acquired an enjoyment and appreciation of music…Their curiousity about the musical pieces and instruments has also further developed their motivation to be creative.” – Ms. Elizarraras, principal at Sheridan Way Elementary School (Ventura, CA)

“I feel that the music program is important because it’s a good way to start getting motivated in the morning to boost your confidence and it is helping everyone focus more than before we had the music.  I like it.” – Diego Lopez, 5th grader at Sheridan Way Elementary School (Ventura, CA)

Introduction to the Six-Week Pilot Program: WATER

Musicians, dancers, writers, and other artists are inspired to create their art by the things around them. Water is a rich inspiration for music, especially because of the variety of sounds it makes. Just think about the difference between the sound of water coming from your kitchen faucet while you’re doing the dishes and the rain tapping on your rooftop in a thunderstorm.

In the next six weeks, you will get to hear songs from all over the world inspired by oceans, rivers, streams, rain, and even solid water: ice. Some of these songs are traditional and have been around for a long time and some were composed in your lifetime. But they all share a common connection: water.  

For four days each week, Monday through Thursday, you will get to listen to the “song of the week” each day. You’ll learn some fun facts about it, the story surrounding it, and you will get to think up your own original thoughts about it. We’ll prompt you with creative thinking questions to think about as you listen.

The final day of each week is Fusion Friday, where you get to hear a fun song that somehow relates to the song of the week. You might just have to draw your own conclusions about how they are connected, and you can use your imagination to do this.  

An important part of music is the person listening. You bring your own experience, your own imagination, your own response. Music is a dance between the composer, (the person who made up the song in the first place), the performers, and you. Let’s get this dance started with our first song of the week!

Sample Days

Week 2, Day 4

Week 2, Day 4

Country:                China

Song:                    “Luishui”  (Flowing Waters)

Artist:                    Guan Pinghu

Date:                     1973

Can you believe that the Chinese people have been playing the guqin for over 3000 years? That’s more than 2,700 years longer than the United States has even been a country! Historically, the musicians who play this instrument train as apprentices with Chinese masters, learning this classical style of music by ear. They have to understand human feelings very well so they can express them through the music. They like to think of songs like “Flowing Water” as “poetry without words.” 

How can a song be a poem?
When you listen today, think about all of the words that come into your mind as you hear the song. If you have a pencil and a piece of paper, write them down as they come to you. Are they feeling words, like joy and sadness, or color words, like red and blue, or other types of words? Music brings up different words for different people, so any words you think of are right. 

After you’ve listened and written down your words, think again of this question: Can a song be a poem?  

Week 3, Day 2

Week 3, Day 2

Country:                Brazil

Song:                    “Pescaría (Canoeiro)”  

Artist:                    Dorival Caymmi

Date:                     1954-1957

Yesterday when you were listening to the song, did you recognize any words?  Did you guess the language? If you speak Spanish, you might have heard a few words that sounded like Spanish, like “mar” which means “the sea” or ocean. But you may not have understood all of the words because they sung in Portuguese, the language of Brazil. Portuguese and Spanish are sometimes similar.  Words like “mar” are the same; “mar” means “sea” in both languages. But their words and sound can also be very different.

Our song, “Pescaría,” is about a fisherman who uses a canoe as his boat. Mr. Caymmi didn’t write about the water itself, but about the people who lived and worked on the water. This music gives us a look at how regular people lived, and it is called folk music.  

Here are some of the words:
“The canoe rider/throws the net,/throws the net to the sea. The canoe rider throws the net to the sea.
Encircles the fish,/moves the oar,/pulls the rope/gathers the net./The canoe rider throws the net to the sea.”  

These words repeat throughout the song. Do you have any favorite songs whose words and music repeat over and over?

As you listen today, try to hear the words or music notes repeating. When you go home tonight, listen to some of your own songs and see if you notice any repeating words and notes.

Week 5, Day 3

Week 5, Day 3

Country:                France

Song:                    “La Mer”  (The Sea)

Artist:                    Claude Debussy

Date:                     1905

Do you think that music or art can more accurately “paint” the ocean? Debussy felt that he could do better with his new approach to music. This song is Debussy’s way of sketching the idea of the waves playing with each other. He made up different combinations of sounds that no one had used before. This would be like mixing up a brand new color of paint that no one had seen before.

Were you able to picture the waves playing yesterday? The thing is, everybody has their own interpretation of music. Because we asked you to picture the waves, you did so. But today, we’d like you to erase the waves and water from your mind. Instead, as you listen today, think of La Mer as a movie soundtrack, a movie soundtrack that is playing the music to the images that come up in your mind. Your own images. Start with yourself as the main character. Let the sound of the music help you make up your adventures. Close your eyes, and jump into the music!


Created by Kathryn Haydon, Founder, Sparkitivity and Sarah Sherban, Louise Endel Community Engagement Manager, International Festival of Arts & Ideas

Edited by Rebecca Romo

The Program is Funded By