The students of Swati Sadan School, Balaju, Kathmandu, Nepal and Srijan School, Delhi, India collaborated on an international collaborative project on Folk Musical Instruments as a part of the International School Award (ISA) under Connecting Classrooms for Global Learning Project. 

A group of students of Srijan School in New Delhi, India gracefully sang “Resham firiri resham firiri…” a popular folk song from Nepal as part of the international collaborative project. Among the instruments used, Madal (hand drum) and Khaijedi (one side open drum made of goatskin) were sent by the Swati Sadan School, Kathmandu in terms of exchange. Simultaneously, students of Swati Sadan School played a famous Hindi old song “Pardesi Pardesi” along with a Dholak (two-headed hand-drum) sent by the Srijan School during an orchestra presentation programme. 

The main objective of this activity was aimed at imparting knowledge about traditional musical instruments of Nepal and abroad, in this context - India.

“It was really challenging for us to select among the numerous folk musical instruments of Nepal as we had to send it to the school in New Delhi. We decided to select an instrument that is easier to deliver and still carried the essence of our folk culture. Thus, we went for ‘Madal’ and ‘Khaijedi’. ‘Madal’ because it is widely used by almost all of the Nepalese society and Khaijedi as it is played during the ritual songs called “Bhajans” and is used for the typical mountain songs Tamang-Selo," shares Rajendra Chapagain, ISA Coordinator at Swati Sadan School. 

How did they collaborate?
Students collaborated with a partner school and had Skype conversations with the students there. They discussed similarities and differences in their musical instruments and answered each other's queries. They even taught each other on how to play those instruments during Skype sessions. They shared lyrics of popular songs of their country through emails. The students learnt the songs, sang these songs during an orchestra presentation at their schools. They also shared a recorded video presentation of these orchestra sessions with each other and collected and shared feedback.  

What did the students learn from the project?
The project not only built the students’ understanding of folk musical instruments but also enabled them to appreciate, value and understand the relevance of cultural values of various music and musical instruments from other countries. 

Besides collaborating with the Srijan School of India and gaining insights about the respective country’s traditional instruments, the students of Swati Sadan took part in various other learning activities. They demonstrated their learnings of the theoretical aspect of folk musical instruments. A group discussion was held where students presented through a PowerPoint presentation. Afterwards, they were taken to a Nepali Folk Museum, a local museum in Tripureshwor for observation. “Museum’s staff playing folk musical instrument Murchunga (Jew's Harp) was a treat to watch for the students. Similarly, the use of Madal in Dohori was emphasized during the Talent Hunt program organized at our school," adds Adhikari.

Through this project, students didn’t only learn about folk musical instruments, but they also enhanced their skills on communication and collaboration, digital literacy and respect for other cultures. Before the project, most of the students were not familiar with Skype and have had no opportunity where they could collaborate in a broad team activity. Altogether 75 students of grade seven actively participated during the project activities.

Students from India playing Nepali musical instrument on stage.
Students in Nepal learning about Indian musical instruments.

The British Council’s International School Award (ISA) is a global accreditation scheme that supports and recognizes schools for incorporating an international dimension in their teaching. The accreditation process support schools to develop action plans and deliver lessons according to the plan. The programme encourages partnerships and collaboration between schools – both internationally and locally.  The ISA is a part of the Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning Programme which is co-funded by the British Council and UK aid. This global programme is currently being implemented in 34 countries. Across Nepal, over 60 schools are currently involved in the 2018-19 cycle and over 300 schools will be working on the 2019-20 programme.