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Lesson Plan.

Shosholoza is a South African folk song. It is sung both by South African workers and by Springbok rugby fans. The words are easy to learn. They mean, quite simply, "Shosholoza, this train is gaining speed and steaming for South Africa.".
It can be performed in three parts. Many sound effects and instrumental parts can be added which will all add towards a polished performance. I have included an MP3 music file so that your class can hear what the piece should sound like. The file that I have linked is performed by the Drakensburg Boys Choir. There are other recordings available. A perticularly good recording can be found on the 1999 World in Union CD, performed by Ladysmith Black Mambozo. This is the arrangement that they sung at the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup I have included a cartoon animation to help you learn the rhythm of the words of the top part.


  1. Listen to the song. Learn the words one word at a time. Repeat each word in rhythm whilst listening to the recording. Once the children have learned one word, try another. Say each word in a steady rhythm.
  2. Sing the opening phrase........Sho    sho   lo za. Sing it with the music. Make sure the children sing each note in tune. They must lift their voices to the correct pitch. There is a page showing the music. The tune is easily played on a recorder or flute.
  3. Once they can sing the opening phrase, move on to the rest of the song, adding small parts at a time until they are reasonably confident with the whole song. They should now sing the whole line,
    Stimela Sphuma
    South Africa
        Composition Ideas.
  1. Ask the children to pick out simple short phrases from the tune. Either perform these phrases as a clap/body rhythm sound, or use un-pitched percussion, tambourines, drums etc.
  2. Ask the children to try to make up some steam engine sound effects. Listen to the performance. Note how the choir make each verse sound different, simply by making small changes and adding rhythm effects.
          Improving performance.
  1. Use the bass metalophone to add the simple bass line.  If the children find this too hard at first, play a simple burden effect, G    G    C    D, repeating ad infinitum.

  2. Finally, pick a few good voices and learn the top line. Ask them to listen out for it in the music. It's easier to pick out if you watch the Top Line Cartoon whilst listening to the music.  Click here to see the Top Line Cartoon.

    Take the time to record your performance. Perform the music to another class. Discuss the effectiveness of the music and ask for suggestions as to how the performance could be improved.
    Finally, listen out for other examples of South African folk music. Good examples can be found on by the Canadian band, Juba.  A particularly good example would be Siyaya  Jerusalem. Also, listen to some more examples of the South African choir, "Ladysmith Black Mambozo"

    Download MP3 file?
    See the music?
    Learn the top part?