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Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Learning about Samoa Through Music

Learning about Samoa through Music—incultureparent via © shutterstock

Talofa! You just said ‘hi’ in the beautiful language of the Samoan people. I learned my first Samoan song about a month ago and since then I have been fascinated with the music, language and culture.


Samoa is one of the many islands sprinkled in the South Pacific Ocean. Samoa has a very rich and old history and despite centuries of European influence, it still maintains its historical customs, social and political systems, and language. Music and dance are part of everyday life. Singing is especially important as people use it to rejoice, mourn and keep their culture alive. Some of the traditional instruments include conch shells and nose flutes. Samoan singing is often accompanied by two instruments called pate (a hollowed-out log) and fala (a rolled-up mat), which are both beaten with sticks.


At a recent Orff workshop, I fell in love with a Samoan song called Savalivali. The song arrived to me via Greacian Goeke who learned it from Finnish Orff teacher Soili Perkio.


You can hear this beautiful song on Youtube:


The second song I’d like to share is the Samoan version of Little Birdie. I learned it on youtube from a group of Samoan women. Here you can hear me sing and play it on a ukulele!


I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I have and I also hope you will share them with the children in your lives!


If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can learn more about Pacific Island cultures at the San Francisco Bay Area Aloha Festival in San Mateo on August 3 and 4. This is a great, free, family event with lots of music and dance! If you don’t live in the Bay Area check out dates for Pacific Island cultural festivals in your area.


© 2013, Viola Pellegrini. All rights reserved.

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Viola Pellegrini, born and raised in Florence (Italy), holds a Bachelor's Degree in Child Development from Mills College. She has received extensive training in music education from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has attended teacher trainings in both Suzuki Method and Orff. She has also taught preschool for seven years and has been a private music instructor for the past ten years. Viola currently teaches multicultural music and movement to young children and families. She hopes to inspire children to develop a lifelong enjoyment and appreciation for music and cultures from around the world. Viola plays violin, piano, guitar and recorder, and is constantly adding new instruments to her repertoire. In addition to English, she is fluent in Italian and German, and is working on her Spanish. In her free time she enjoys attending music and dance events, cooking, practicing yoga and traveling the world with her husband.

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