Lesson 1: Learning “A.K.I.K.O.”

Aim:  How can we use melody and rhythm to create a chant?
Summary:  Students learn the chorus to “A.K.I.K.O.”; explore the concept of melodic variation; and create their own rhythmic chant.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources, classroom instruments; crayons, markers, or colored pencils
Standards: GA –  ESGMK.PR.1, ESGMK.RE.3, ESGMK.CN.2, ESGM1.PR.1, ESGM1.RE.1, ESGM2.PR.1, ESGM2.RE.1, ESGM2.CN.2
Vocabulary:  chant, variation
See Glossary →

“A.K.I.K.O.” is one of Emeline’s signature and best-loved songs. Once, when performing in Japan, Emeline worked with a translator named Akiko. The two built a bond, and Emeline wrote this song as a tribute to her friend who inspired her to imagine a better world during turbulent times.

Sing “A.K.I.K.O.” 
  • Listen to “A.K.I.K.O.,” Track 6.01

Track 6.01 – “A.K.I.K.O.”

  • Emeline sings in Haitian Creole, a language that is based predominantly on French but mixed with a bit of Portuguese, Spanish, English, Taíno, and West African languages. 
  • Learn the pronunciation of the four Haitian Creole letters that make up the lyrics to the chorus. 
  • Learn to sing the chorus with “A.K.I.K.O.” chorus, Track 6.02.

Track 6.02 – “A.K.I.K.O.” Chorus


E si m’ t’anvi chante lajwa

E si m’ t’anvi taye banda 

Rakonte yon bèl istwa 

Nou tout t’a va mande yon lwa 

Pou fè repouse tout pye bwa 

Pou jwe lago kache lespwa, ann chante


A.K.I.K.O., A.K.I.K.O. 

Menm si se vre nou betize 

Moun, save di nou pap sove 

Pèsonn p’ap anpeche m’ reve 

Reve yon bèl bato desann 

Ranmase tout moun ki t’ap tann 

Pou nal fè yon bèl fèt ansann 



Si tout moun, tout peyi 

Nan lemond t’a va rive yon jou reyini 

Tankou yon paradi

Nou t’a jwenn yon pawòl 

On langaj, on mizik, on melodi 

On ti mo, k’ fe maji 

Fò n’ chante pou lavi miyò 

Pou tout sa k’ap dòmi deyò 

Pou tout sa k’ap viv andeyò 

Pou yon jou kap yo ka chanje 

Pou tout timoun kab jwenn manje 

Pou n’ krusifye tout prejuje


(Chorus) (x4) 


(Chorus) (x8)

What if I want to sing a song of joy? 

What if I want to dance a banda 

And tell you a beautiful story? 

We all would plead for a law 

To make all the trees grow back, 

To play hide and seek at night and sing:


A.K.I.K.O., A.K.I.K.O. 

If this is true, we messed up. 

Savant says there is no salvation for us, 

But no one can stop me from dreaming, 

Dreaming of a beautiful boat going along 

Picking up everyone waiting 

To make a party together. 



If everyone from every country 

In the world was reunited 

As in paradise, 

We would find 

A language, a music, a melody 

A little magical word. 

We have to sing for a better life, 

For those sleeping in the streets, 

For all those in the countryside, 

For the card to flip, 

For all the children to eat, 

For no more prejudice. 


(Chorus) (x4) 



Create Variations of the Melody in “A.K.I.K.O.”
  • Through call and response, sing the chorus of “A.K.I.K.O.” Note that it includes just five notes.
  • Continue using call and response as you explore the five notes in the melody and using some or all of the following tools:
  • Body scale (refer to TG20)
  • Solfège (sol, do, la, do, sol)
  • Scale degree (5, 8, 6, 8, 5)
  • Once the class feels comfortable with the tools above, you can use them to explore variations on the melody. Start by changing one note (e.g. sol, do, do, do, sol) and gradually change more. You can also play with tempo.
  • This can become a kind of “Simon Says” game, where you try to stump the class. Invite students to come up and act as the leader. 
Explore the Underlying Rhythms in “A.K.I.K.O.”
  • Listen to “A.K.I.K.O.” rhythm loop, Track 6.03. Note that there is a rhythm played by the percussion that acts like a motor, keeping the song moving and making you want to dance. Learn the rhythm as a class, using body percussion or instruments.

Track 6.03 – “A.K.I.K.O.” Rhythm Loop

  • Divide students into two groups. One group will keep the steady beat while the other group taps the rhythm. Combine the groups to hear the layers together, and perform with “A.K.I.K.O.” rhythm loop, Track 6.03. Have the groups switch parts whenever you call, “Switch!”

Creative Extension: The Name Game

  • Your students will create rhythmic chants based on the spelling of their names, like Emeline did with Akiko’s name. You can demonstrate using your own name first.
  • Chant the letters of your first name, trying out different rhythmic patterns until you find one that you like.
  • Add a simple melody to your pattern; you can choose the notes from “A.K.I.K.O.,” or use any other notes you want.
  • Teach the chant to the class through call and response.
  • Ask for volunteers to follow the same process, using their own names.
  • Play the name game.
  • Put everyone’s names into a hat. Form a circle, and have the class keep a steady beat.
  • Ask for a volunteer to go into the circle, pick a name out of the hat, and create a chant based on that name. Teach the chant to the class using call and response.
  • The student whose name was chanted goes next. Continue until everyone’s name is performed.

Creative Extension: Poem of Inspiration

  • On SG38, students will have an opportunity to write an acrostic poem about a friend or family member based upon the letters in that person’s name.
Musical Word Wall

Add the word chant and variation to the Musical Word Wall.
See Glossary →

PDF Downloads

↓ SG38 Write Your Own Poem

Audio Tracks

Track 6.01 – “A.K.I.K.O.”

Track 6.02 – “A.K.I.K.O.” Chorus

Track 6.03 – “A.K.I.K.O.” Rhythm Loop

Lesson 2: Exploring “Panama Mwen Tombe” →

Unit 6: Haitian Music with Emeline