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Tuesday, May 7, 2024

آ شتا تاتا تاتا (Achtatata) :Moroccan Rain Song

I was looking for some songs in Arabic to add to my teaching that would be accessible for young students and tie into concepts I want to reinforce in my teaching, and came across this lovely song about rain from Morocco that I can't wait to share with my students! I am thrilled because it ties in perfectly with the other songs from around the world that I already use in my teaching around the theme of rain. There are so many possibilities for using this in elementary music- here are some of my favorite ideas.

If you, like me, did not know this song until now, here is a fun video demonstrating the song with an introduction in English as well:

First of all, just like many other languages spoken across a wide range of countries, Arabic is spoken and written in slightly different ways in different countries. This song is specifically in Darija, or Moroccan Arabic. Here are the lyrics (for the first, repeated section) in Darija:

آ شتا تاتا تاتا                             A chta tata tata
آ وليدات الحراثة                         A wlidat lherata
آ المعلم بوزكري                         A lmaalm Bouzekri
طيب لي خبزي بكري                   Tybli khbzi bekri

The words basically mean "Oh rain, rain, rain, Oh peasants' children, Oh Mr. Bouzekri, Bake my bread early". My research shows the song was originally written as political commentary but has been used more recently as a plea for rain as well- as of right now in 2024, Morocco has been in a 6-year drought. It's also a very common children's song that is widely known in Morocco.

This song is perfect for practicing steady beat and quarter notes and paired eighth notes with my Kindergarten and 1st grade students. After having students copy the woman in the video above to pat the steady beat with the song while they listen, I'll have students practice singing the song while keeping the beat with new moves that the students come up with. First I'll get students to suggest motions that are like rain, then motions that show different parts of making bread. Using themes from the song like this is a great way to get students to solidify the beat while expanding their movement vocabulary. 

To practice quarter and eighth notes, I have students sing just the first line (teaching them the word for "rain"), and the clap with the rhythm of the words to identify the rhythm. I like having students practice notating simple rhythms using rhythm cards like these that I made a few years ago. After we clap with the words, I split them up into small groups, give each group some rhythm cards, and have them place the cards on the floor to match the rhythm of the first line.

Once they can notate the rhythm of the first line, I have students take turns using the same rhythm cards to notate their own 4 beat rhythm pattern, then they choose an instrument to use to play their rhythm as an ostinato while the rest of the class sings the song. I use this to talk about timbre as well: I tell them to think about which instrument sound would match best with a song about rain and try to choose an appropriate instrument to accompany the song rather than choosing an instrument based on what they want to play.

This would also be a great song to practice do, re, and mi, or even to introduce ti. The first 2 lines of the song use only do, re, and mi, and the 3rd line adds ti as well- here is the notation for the simplified melody (without the extra sixteenth passing notes in the last 2 lines):

I've done similar solfege practice with other rain songs by cutting out raindrop shapes in the colors that match my classroom instruments' solfege colors, have students aurally identify the solfege and use the raindrop colors to first put them in a row, then put them on the staff. This also makes it possible for students to then play the melody on an instrument, which is a really great way to show students how solfege skills can apply to real world music making in a concrete way!

I hope you are as excited to use this song in your classroom as I am! If you've used this song before and have other ideas please leave them in the comments. If you want to use this as part of a thematic set of lessons on rain songs around the world, here is my post on lessons with a Japanese rain song:

Stay tuned for more lesson plans using rain songs from other countries coming soon!

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