"When a Country Loses Its Songs" Lesson

The Story of the Afghan Children’s Songbook Project

Students will read a Peace Corps Volunteer’s account of how she helped to restore children’s music to a culture that had almost eradicated it. They will then discuss the meaning of music in their own lives and culture and investigate the importance of music in others’ lives.


Students will read the story. Teachers may explore some of the author-suggested discussion questions with students, or they may lead students through their own questions as appropriate. Discussion may be facilitated in a large group, small group, or written format.

  • Hold a discussion with your students after hearing this story. Ask them the following questions: What role does music play in your life? What would you consider to be your "musical culture"? Can you imagine living without it? What would be the "loss" for you if it were to disappear?
  • Interview an elder in your family. Ask about his or her idea of musical culture. What memories does this person have? How is it different from yours?
    • Create a poem, visual display, or short dramatic piece that captures the essence of your interview findings. Share those with your classmates.
  • Can you remember any childhood songs (from school, your place of worship, your family, bus rides, camp, etc.)? Who sang these songs? When? What was the purpose? What emotions do these songs bring up for you?
  • If you went to Afghanistan and the people there asked you to sing an "American song," what would you sing? What, to you, is "American music?" Why?
  • What musical "treasures" would you imagine wanting to preserve and pass on to the next generation some day? 

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