Children's Facts on African Music

little drum from wood image by Dev from

Teaching children about African music broadens their cultural horizons and gives them important perspective on world music. To teach kids about African music, you should start with the different families of instruments and what they do, then address some of the styles of African music.

African Drums

Drums are some of the most common instruments in African music. Drums are any type of instrument that has a frame and a drum head you hit with sticks or hands. Frames are usually made of wood and drum heads are made of animal skin. According to, African drums include the djembe, talking drum and Bata drum.

African Percussion

Percussion instruments are similar to drums, because you play them with your hands or sticks. However, percussion instruments do not always have a drum head or frame, and can sometimes play melodies in addition to rhythms. African percussion instruments include the thumb piano, marimba and xylophone, which can all play melodies, as well as the shekere, tambourine and rain stick, which just play rhythms.

African Melodic Instruments

African melodic instruments are different from drums and percussion because they play rhythms, melodies and chords, and consist of wind and brass instruments that use the mouth, as well as string instruments that use bows and picks. These include the trumpet, trombone and saxophone, which are brass and wind instruments, and the bolon, ngoni, and kora, which are string instruments, according to

African Singing

Singing is a major part of African music. Most singing in African music is done by groups of people, instead of just one. While there may be one lead singer, she is joined by other singers that sing harmonies, and do call-and-response with the lyrics.

African Styles

There are many different styles of African music. According to, traditional styles of African music that use mostly drums, percussion and singing are Apala, Benga and Fuji. Modern styles of African music combine traditional instruments with Western instruments like guitar and electric bass, and include afropop, afrobeat and kwassa kwassa.