"Garifalia": Greek Folk Song & Dance

Introduce your students to Greek folk dance and instrumental accompaniment.

Standards Correlations

  • Standard 2

    : Performing, on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
  • Standard 8

    : Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts
  • Standard 9

    : Understanding music in relation to history and culture


  • Students will accompany with non-pitched percussion instruments using correct rhythm
  • Students will perform song using correct posture, singing voice, and rhythm
  • Students will emphasize strong beats in each measure using movement
  • Students will describe dance using accurate musical terms


  • Copies of "Garifalia"
  • Non-pitched percussion instruments (e.g., triangle, finger cymbal, tambourine, wood block)
  • Ample room for movement

Prior Knowledge and Experiences

  • Students are familiar with “Garifalia” – teachers should spend time teaching the song before beginning the lesson.
  • Students are familiar with 7/8 or comparable mixed meter.
  • Students are familiar with moving to music and emphasizing the strong beat in a measure.
  • Students are familiar with the use of musical terms in describing music.
  • Students are familiar with the use of non-pitched percussion instruments.


  1. Ask students to name the types of dances and dance music with which they are familiar. Lead a discussion about dances from other countries (waltz, samba, ballet, etc.) Tell students that the ancient Greeks believed dancing was invented by the gods and associated it with their ceremonies. Greek mythology attributes the origin of dancing to Zeus's mother, Rea. (Teachers: Edit the following as appropriate.)
    Kronos, father of Zeus, had dethroned his father, Uranus. Since he feared being dethroned by his own children, he ate them as soon as they were born. His wife, Rea, however, deceived Kronos when their last child, Zeus, was born. She hid him in a dark cave and gave Kronos a stone wrapped in baby blankets to eat. She asked Kourites, who were armed soldiers, to dance a war dance around the cave, shouting and striking their swords and shields so that Kronos could not hear the baby crying. Zeus later dethroned his father and gave a special place in society to the 'dancers' that protected him.
    Ancient texts reveal that dance was held in high regard. Along with writing, music, and physical education, it was a cornerstone of the Greek educational system. Today, Greece is one of the few places where folk dance is kept alive in everyday life. It continues to play an important role and can be seen on occasions like weddings, family celebrations, and celebrations of Patron Saints.

  2. Divide the class into Group A and Group B.

  3. Have all students count the 7/8 pattern, patting or clapping the strong beat (1 2 3 1 2 1 2). Have Group A count in 7/8 and Group B keep the strong beat. Switch activities.

  4. Sing “Garifalia” for students. Instruct the students to step in place on the strong beats of each measure.

  5. Have students sing and do movement activity on strong beats of each measure.

  6. Have all students stand up. Group A goes to non-pitched instruments. Both groups sing the song. Group A keeps the strong beat on percussion instruments. Group B steps to the strong beat. Switch activities.

  7. Instruct the students in Greek-style dance.

  8. Group A performs the dance. Group B performs the song while clapping the strong beat. Switch activities.

  9. Ask students to describe the dance using musical terms (i.e., tempo, style, rhythm).

Indicators of Success

  • Students perform accompaniment to the song on non-pitched percussion instruments, using correct technique and rhythm.
  • Students sing the song using correct posture, correct rhythms, and accurate pitches.
  • Students accurately move to mixed meter, emphasizing the strong beat.
  • Students used musical terms correctly to describe the dance.
Provided in partnership with NAfME
Familiarize your students with "Garifalia," a Greek folk song and dance, using this detailed lesson plan.
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