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Lesson 1: Learning “Trata”

Aim: How can we use rhythm and voice qualities to create a song?
Summary: Students will sing and dance to “Trata,” and learn about different voice qualities and rhythmic layering.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources
Standards: National 1, 5, 9, 10
Vocabulary: accordion, call and response

A “trata” is a boat used for fishing. During the Easter season, the trata dance is traditionally performed by the women of Megara, a town near Athens, Greece. This dance is performed to wish the fishermen luck on their catch for the day.

Magda Teaches “Trata”

“Trata” Demonstration

Greek folk artist Magda teaches the traditional Greek folk song “Trata.”

Sing “Trata”

  • Listen to “Trata,” Track 3.
  • Learn the lyrics using “Trata” pronunciation, Track 4.
  • Sing the chorus using “Trata” chorus, Track 5. Note that the chorus is sung in call and response, with the leader calling out and the group responding.



I trata masi kourelou
I hiliobalomeni
Olo tin ebaloname
Ki olo itan ksilomeni

Evira mia, sta pania
Evira thio, sto yalo
Evira tris, sto spiti tis

An to’ksere i mana mou
Pos thouleva stin trata
Tha moustelne ta rouha mou
Ke tin palia mou vraka




Our wretched boat
Which we have patched a thousand times
We would always mend it
But it would always have holes

Heave-ho one, on the sails
Heave-ho two, on the coast
Heave-ho three, at her house

If my mother knew
That I worked on the boat,
She would send me my clothes
And my old breeches


Explore Different Voice Qualities in “Trata”

  • Explain that “Trata” is a song that women traditionally sang as the fishermen headed out to sea. The chorus of the song simulates a group of fishermen working together to pull in their nets.
    • Which part of the song sounds like they are working together to bring in their nets?
    • What about the music in that part would help people work together as a team?
    • In “Trata,” the word “evira” is loosely translated as “heave-ho,” a word that fishermen use as a command when pulling a heavy net full of fish out of the water.
  • Discuss the four voice qualities—singing, calling, whispering, and speaking—and how to use them. Refer back to Explore Different Voices in the Vocal and Body Warm-Ups section for more on this activity.
    • Which voice quality is being used in the chorus of “Trata”?
  • Experiment with performing the chorus of “Trata” with different voice qualities. You can also brainstorm different kinds of voices (i.e., animal voices, baby voices, etc.)
    • How does using different voice qualities change the feeling of the music?

Dance to “Trata”

  • The traditional Greek dance movements to “Trata” simulate fishermen hauling in their nets. The dance is performed in a circle; the dancers interweave their hands to simulate the fishing net.
  • Review the dance steps in the video above.
    • Stand side by side in a circle. Instruct your students to hold the hand of every other person, as follows:
      • Reach your right hand under the arm of the person to your right and take the left hand of the next person over.
      • Reach your left arm over the arm of the person to your left and take the right hand of the next person over.
      • Step on each beat, as follows:
        • Beat 1: Step to the right with your right foot.
        • Beat 2: Cross your left foot in front of your right foot, slightly bending your left knee.
        • Beat 3: Step to the right with your right foot.
        • Beat 4: Point your left toe.
        • Beat 1: Step to the left with your left foot.
        • Beat 2: Cross your right foot in front of your left foot, slightly bending your right knee.
        • Beat 3: Step to the left with your left foot.
        • Beat 4: Point your right toe.
  • Repeat the full set of movements; note that the full set covers two measures.
    • Using “Trata,” Track 3, perform the traditional Greek dance movements during the verses. During the chorus, stop and sing the call and response, with a designated leader singing the call and the class responding.

Explore the Accordion

With Explore the Accordion (PDF) your students will have an opportunity to explore the accordion. Note the similarity to the harmonium, a cousin of the accordion, played in Indian Classical with Falu. Using the listening examples under Additional Resources for Teachers, play some additional examples of the accordion in Greek music. Ask your students to raise their hands when they hear the accordion being played.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words accordion and call and response to the Musical Word Wall.

Don't Forget

Image Credits

“Greek Festival” by Mark Read is licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0.

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