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Improvising with Brazilian Samba

Aim: How can we improvise with the rhythms of Brazilian samba?
Summary: Students use samba rhythms and percussion to improvise in rondo form.
Standards: US 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9; US 1, 2, 3, 4
Grade: 5th
Concept: Rhythm & Meter, Form
Artistic Process: responding, connecting
Materials: Brazilian surdo, tamborim, and agogô instruments (or instruments with similar sound qualities), Teacher Worksheet
Time Required: 20 minutes


  1. Teach students four different Brazilian-inspired samba rhythms through call and response. Choose volunteers to take turns as the leader and also encourage students to try establishing other similar types of grooves.
    Download Teacher and Student Worksheet (PDF)
  2. Once students are comfortable with the rhythms independently, put them together by splitting the class into four groups and choosing student volunteers who can use percussion instruments to lead their sections.
  3. Create a performance of the samba rhythms by interspersing the above rhythm section with a student soloist improvising in a rondo (ABA or ABACA) pattern.

Going Deeper

  1. Learn more about the Brazilian samba and listen to excerpts of samba music:
    Carnegie Hall’s Voices from Latin America online resource
  2. Have students discuss the following questions:
    • What kinds of instruments do you hear?
    • What feelings do you experience when you hear this music? Why do you think that is?
    • What more would you like to know about Brazil and its music?


Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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