Issue 141: Si si si; and Call and Response Songs

This seems to be a theme of my lessons this term.

Some of the songs I am using don’t, at first sight, fall into this category. I’ve been using the “Rabbit, run on the frozen ground song” in samba and djembe lessons, fist as a straightforward song, and then as a call and response song.

Having learned the song, we then sing it as call and response (me leading, and then the children leading). Once that is secure, we sing and play it, all through, and as call and response. On djembe, I use bass and tone to differentiate between the two parts. On samba, I (or the children!) assign lines to the different instrument groups, in two parts, or maybe in more complex arrangements. By the time you have taught the song, discussed the content (someone’s caught a rabbit, someone else doesn’t seem to believe them, and as you let the rabbit go, where’s the proof?), and worked through the process of transferring it to instruments, and tidied it up, a whole lesson has happened!

I was teaching the song “Si, si, si” to a year 5/6 samba class, and it occurred to me that this would work very well in the same manner. It’s a traditional Congolese welcome song:


You can sing it as a round; the entry points are marked 1,2,3 (line 4 is a repeat of line 1)

I was thinking of doing it as a call and response song, the call being two bars eg “si, si, si, dola da” and the response being the next two bars (eg) “yaku sine ladu banaha” with djembe or samba classes.

I’ve found that teaching a rhythmically interesting song, and then using it as the basis for percussion work is a very effective way producing an effective performance, especially for younger children. I’ve done this now with Sambale  Kumala, kumala and Kalele, and it has worked every time.

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