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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Colombian Rain Song: Caminando Va (Go Walking)

I love using different songs with similar themes to compare and contrast specific musical elements- I find using songs with lyrics that are about the same topic makes it easier to draw young students' attention to the musical aspects of the songs. Over the last few weeks I have been sharing rain songs from all over the world, and today I have a wonderful song from Colombia that is perfect for early childhood, preschool, or self-contained classes or, used differently, works great in upper elementary grades as well!

I think for most US American music teachers when they think of non-English songs about rain, they think of "Que Llueva". It's a lovely song known in many countries across South America and there are plenty of great lesson ideas and materials already out there for that one. But I love this song from Colombian singer-songwriter Marta Gómez called "Caminando Va"! Here is the original recording:

It's essentially a little children's fingerplay/ nursery rhyme that launches into a full Latin style track. To be clear, this song is not a "traditional" song- it was released in 2016 (and its album was nominated for a Latin Grammy). The lyrics for the first section are:

Llueve, llueve, llueve, llueve sin pararY el caracolito en su casa estáY el caracolito en su casa está
Luego de un ratote empieza a escamparY el caracolito sale a pasearY el caracolito sale a pasear
Which translates to:
It rains, it rains, it rains, it rains non-stopAnd the little snail is in his houseAnd the little snail is in his house
After a while it starts to clearAnd the little snail goes for a walkAnd the little snail goes for a walk
How many songs do you know about snails?!? I love this song. 
I actually first came across this song in this video where a music teacher teaches students the actions to do with the song:

The clapping with the words "el caracolito" would be great if you wanted to use it to practice quarter notes and eighth notes, but otherwise I like the fingerplay motions that the woman demonstrates at the beginning of this video:

When I taught it with my self-contained class I combined the motions from those two videos, using one thumb out with the rest of the fingers in a fist to show the snail, and showing the thumb going under the fingers in the first part and coming out and gliding along in the second part, with the motions for the first line of each section taken from the first video. If I used this with Kindergarten or 1st grade I would clapping and do the motions shown in the first video to have students identify quarter and eighth notes!

For PreK and self-contained special education classes, doing it as a fingerplay helps build dexterity and encourages nonverbal students to participate in the lyrics. For classes that are more verbal, the lyrics are pretty accessible, especially once they've heard it several times.

After we learn the fingerplay, I turn on the recording and have students sing along with the beginning. Once we get to the rest of the track, it's the perfect opportunity for movement or instrument improvisation. Sometimes I invite students to pretend to be a snail strolling around in the sun, sometimes I have a box of scarves for students to grab from and encourage them to move freely, sometimes I give different students maracas, bongos, guiros, etc and encourage them to play along with the music. The students' eyes always light up when the instruments start to play!

Of course the main part of the song is a great example for upper elementary grades to practice identifying meter, form, instrument timbres, and/ or genre. I've thrown this in a few times as one of my examples when we're practicing aurally identifying instruments or matching songs with their genre, and the students recognize the familiar sounds and love the groove of the song. But my favorite ways to use it with upper grades are to think about the meter and the form. 

I've actually found that using a non-English song is a great way to get students to focus on the melodic and harmonic structure of a song to practice identifying the form. This song is a great example because, at first listen, students think it will be complicated to identify the form, but once they actually start paying attention to the repeated and contrasting phrases they are able to identify the same and different sections fairly quickly. This is a great one for introducing terms like chorus/ verse/ intro/ outro etc to label the different sections (as opposed to the ABC labels I use exclusively in the younger grades). I have them work in small groups to listen to the song a few times and first identify the same/ different sections, then discuss the definition of a chorus/ verse etc and have them discuss and label the sections with the new vocabulary. 

This song is also a great example to use for meter. In 4th grade I do a few lessons focusing on songs in different meters to practice identifying the time signature and performing in unusual meters, and it's fun to see the answers students come up with when I put on this recording and ask them to find the beat and figure out how many beats are in a group. It's interesting not only because the groove of the fingerplay section is different from the rest of the song, but because of the rhythms in a couple of phrases that can throw them off. I like to have students decide what they think the meter is, then give their answer and explain the reasoning behind their answer, and ultimately discuss how there can be a few different "correct" ways to notate a song and its time signature.

I hope you and your students enjoy this song- I think it's so fun and the students love to dance with it! If you've used this song for other lesson activities please share in the comments. I've also been sharing my favorite lesson ideas using rain songs from around the world in my previous posts: you can see my lessons for a song from Japan here, Ukraine here, Germany here, South African here, and Morocco here. I highly recommend those! If you have other rain songs that I should add to my unit, please share in the comments as well.

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