Preparing your school for Crossing Borders Music's visit 

Program Description

“Music and Culture around the World”

Crossing Borders Music is a chamber music organization that presents inspiring music by composers from under-represented cultures to foster inter-cultural understanding. This 45-minute interactive string quartet program features diverse music from Uganda, Haiti, the Czech Republic, and the United States. Students will explore the question "What is culture?" and, through guided listening, will hear how different cultural elements shape the music they hear. In the process, students will also learn about fundamental concepts in music. 

List of terms

  • Violin
  • Viola
  • Cello
  • Strings
  • Quartet
  • Culture 
  • Composer
  • Percussion
  • Pizzicato
  • Maracas
  • Rhythm
  • Folk Song
  • Melody
  • Harmony
  • Accompaniment
  • Ostinato
  • Dynamics
  • Tempo
  • Scale

Musical excerpts to be selected from the following:

Mu KKubo Ery 'Omusaalaba (On the Way of the Cross) by Justinian Tamusuza

Choucounne by Michel Mauleart Monton, arr. Fritz Bernardin

Erzulie from Suite Folklorique by Werner Jaegerhuber

Tale by Jean R. Perrault

Geyrani by Parisa Sabet

Largo from Symphony no. 9 (From the New World) by Antonin Dvorak 

If You're Happy and You Know It Traditional

Guidelines for follow-up discussion: 

Q: Violins, violas, and cellos are members of what musical family?
A: Violins, violas, and cellos are members of the string family.

Q: What are some parts of a person's culture?
A: A person's culture includes his or her food, clothing, language, beliefs, stories, music, activities, and more.

Q: What is percussion?
A: Percussion is the family of musical instruments that are played by striking or hitting.

Q: What is a folk song?
A: A folk song is a song that a group of people sing that is passed on from generation to generation.

Q: What are melody, accompaniment, and harmony?
A: A melody is the most prominent part of a piece of music: a "song to sing." Accompaniment is any part of the music that supports or provides a background for the melody. A harmony is a group of notes sounding together. 

Q: What is rhythm?
A: Rhythm is any pattern of sounds in time.

Q: What is a scale?
A: A scale is a certain sequence of notes that get higher or lower in pitch. 

Q: How can a composer's music reflect his/her culture?
A: A composer may use folk songs from his/her culture. A composer may use musical sounds, styles, or traditions from his/her culture in his/her composition. A composer may tell stories of ways of life in his/her culture using music. A composer may use harmonies or scales from his/her culture. A composer may be inspired by the beliefs in his/her culture.

Q: What are some ways a composer can create a mood or tell a story using music?
A: Some ways a composer can create a mood or tell a story are by using dynamics, tempo, rhythm, scales, melodies, harmonies, and more.

Q: Are all parts of a culture good?
A: Not necessarily. Culture includes all parts of a group of people's ways of life, whether good or bad.

Q: How is the music you listen to affected by your culture?
A: Our culture affects the music we listen to in its style, instruments, lyrics, scales, melodies, and more.

Q: Can you find more than one culture in the United States?
A: Yes. In the United States, there are people from many different cultures. However, there are some things that unite almost everyone in this country, like our belief that all children should have the chance to go to school and all adults should have the chance to vote.


Ask your students to write to us using some of the following questions or topics.

  • What music did you enjoy the most? What was it about the music that made you enjoy it?
  • Is there a story in the music that you especially enjoyed? Why? If you were composing music, what story would you tell?

  • Which countries were you interested to learn about? What other countries would you like to learn about?

  • Write a story, and identify ways in which your culture affects the story you write. 

  • What is something you learned about how composers' music reflects their culture?

Please send artwork / essays / evaluations to:

International Music Foundation
Attn:  Maria Valdes-Vargas
30 E. Adams Street, Suite 1206
Chicago, IL   60603

11 E. Adams St., Suite 350-B
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312/670-6888
Fax: 312/670-9166