Lesson 1: Learning “Kele faba”

Aim: What musical patterns can we hear on the kora in “Kele faba?”
Summary: Students listen for musical patterns on the kora and sing along to the chorus of “Kele faba.”
Materials: Musical Explorers CD or online audio, markers or crayons
Time Required: 30 minutes (three 10-minute activities)
Standards: GA: MK-2GM.1, MK-2GM.3, MK-2GM.6, MK-2GM.7, MK-2GM.9
SC: MGK-2.1, MGK-2.2, MGK-2.3, MGK-2.5, MGK-2.6
Vocabulary: djely, kora

Meet Yacouba

  •  Meet Yacouba on SG37.


Sing “Kele faba”

  • Listen to “Kele faba” ( Track 24).

    • “Kele magni den” means “fighting will lead to no good” in Mandingo, which is the language in which this song is sung.
  • Learn the words and sing along to the chorus of “Kele faba” with Yacouba ( Tracks 25 and Track 26).







Stars-retouchedYacouba is a djely (pronounced JAY-lee), which is a person who comes from an ancient line of musicians and storytellers in West Africa. Djelys have been the keepers of history and fables of Mali for centuries. Highly respected within their communities, djelys are responsible for making the stories of the past relevant to contemporary audiences. The kora is one of the traditional instruments that djelys play to accompany their songs.

“Sidikiba’s Kora Lesson” by Ryan Skinner tells the story of Sidikiba, a boy who comes from generations of kora players. As Sidikiba learns to play the kora he also learns the musical and historical traditions that date back hundreds of years in his family.


Explore Patterns on the Kora

  • Look at a picture of the kora on SG38 and have the students decorate the image with their own designs.
  • Listen to the musical patterns Yacouba plays on the kora ( Track 27). He is playing two patterns at the same time. Listen to Pattern 1 ( Track 28) and Pattern 2 ( Track 29) separately.

    •  Yacouba plays an instrument called a kora, which is an instrument with 21 strings made from fishing line that are attached to a hollowed-out gourd and a long wooden neck. Yacouba can play many notes at once by just using his index finders and his thumbs!
Pattern 1



  • Listen to the kora on  Tracks 28 and  Track 29 and create movements to demonstrate the high and low direction of the patterns.

    • What patterns do you hear? Why did you choose the movements you created?
Pattern 2


  •  Listen to “Kele faba” again ( Track 24). Sing along to the chorus and listen for the patterns on the kora.


Creative Extension: Create a Peace-Making Song

  • “Kele faba” is a song that Yacouba plays to solve problems or conflicts with people in his community.
    • Think of a time you had a fight, either with a friend or a family member. Describe what kind of music would help to resolve that conflict.
  • Write lyrics as a class or individually about resolving conflict and creating peace.
  • Use  Track 24 to sing your new lyrics between the choruses.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words djely and kora to the Musical Word Wall.


PDF Downloads

SG37 ↓ Download File
SG38 ↓ Download File


Musical Explorers Audio Tracks