In my years of teaching music and movement classes, I somehow did not realize that the songs in the program were mostly folk songs… American folk songs. While the kids (and my own children too) enjoyed the classes, I eventually became aware that opportunities to learn our own Philippine folk songs have been lost.
Why teach folk songs?
It was only when we transitioned to Charlotte Mason homeschooling that I intentionally included Filipino folk songs into our lessons. Before that, we enjoyed a variety of international music — classical music and the aforementioned American folk songs.
Most of the songs that we know now as folk, such as Ang Pipit, are actually pop songs developed in the 20th century. This is in contrast with the traditional folk music that was transmitted orally through the generations.
However the case may be, through the words of Filipino songs, we learn about the typical life of Filipinos, such as in Magtanim Ay Di Biro, which teaches us about our country’s agricultural heritage. There are also many folk songs in various dialects that will connect us to our regional and indigenous brothers and sisters.
Singing folk songs is almost universal and connects us with our cultural heritage. It is said that all cultures have their own traditional music and is therefore a universal human endeavor.
Through globalization and through different media and apps, we are in danger of losing ours. There is nothing wrong, of course, with appreciating other country’s music, but we should also be intentional about teaching children their own country’s music.
If there is one argument for teaching our children Filipino folk songs, it would be to take part in the work of preserving our culture and bolstering our national identity.
How to incorporate folk songs in your child’s education
Whether or not you’re homeschooling (or following the Charlotte Mason method of education or not), you can easily enjoy beautiful Philippine folk songs in your home. Don’t be afraid of your ability to lead. Folk songs are fun, joyful, easy to sing, repetitive, and mostly easy to remember. Just sing!
Here’s what I do to make it easier for us to just sing our folk songs:
- Choose songs that I already knew from my childhood.
- Plan for one song per term.
- Print out the lyrics.
- Download the music on a gadget
- Research on the background of the songs and tell my children a bit about it
- Sing along at least once a week.
- Once we’ve memorized it, we sing it without the music.
Tahanan Books Folk Songs
But only a few years have passed and my arsenal has already been depleted. That’s when I turned to Tahanan Books’ amazing folk song books.
My musical eldest daughter loves that the books have the music sheet for the song at the back that she plays for us with her recorder, violin, ukulele, and the piano. It’s a great practical use of children’s musical skills!
Special mention goes to Antukin, a beautiful collection of 32 Filipino lullabies and folk songs gathered from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It also features beautiful illustrations depicting Filipino life.
We’re offering FREE audio guides for five of the songs in Antukin for every purchase of the book from the TLB Book Shop. These were made by my 12-year-old daughter, and we hope they will make singing Philippine folk songs less intimidating and a whole lot easier!
Imagine, you just need to download the audio guides, keep them in a handy gadget, and play and sing along! Click here to check out the folk song books that we have at the book shop!
Groundwork for Part Singing
Early this school year, I remembered that my two older children have a song book called Groundwork for Part-Singing. It’s from the chorale class under Our Living Learning that they were part of.
I immediately commissioned my daughter to choose a song, record it, and put it in my iPad. It was such a relief! Then, it dawned on me that we can make the book available for other families as well.
The songs are original arrangements of Filipino folk songs, some English folk songs, Filipino games set in music, and hymns. All were arranged by their award-winning and Internationally renowned chorale teachers, the husband and wife Mr. Jude and Ma. Theresa Roldan.
The book contains short pieces with notes and lyrics. You can listen to the recording first (as I described above) and focus on learning the melody. Once you have it down pat, and if you wish to, you can proceed to the other parts. Instructions are in the book, plus a parent guide will be emailed to you.
My daughter and Sanne’s daughter are part of the Young Voices of the Philippines under the mentorship of Teachers Jude and Theresa Mrs. Roldan who are passionate to bring music, especially Philippine folk songs to young children.
When you avail of this book at The Learning Basket Book Shop, you will get free access to recordings made by the authors of the book of most of the songs in the book. It’s a work in progress but there are already 20 recordings already.
Let’s sing folk songs with our children
Folk songs are important parts of our heritage as Filipinos. Though the country has at least 120 languages, many of us do not know more than a few.
It’s time to get in touch with our heritage that comes from all over the 7000+ islands that we have.
Let’s make singing different folk songs part of our family cultures.
Amazingly, it was perfect timing that we were tagged by a mom who is grateful for our recommendations on folk songs, just when we were finishing this article.