This PowerPoint presentation with audio/video links draws students into ancient Egyptian culture by listening to reconstructed Egyptian music and exploring evidence that is used to recreate that music. The lesson includes extensive student discussion. Click on the link below to access the PowerPoint in Google Docs. No sign-in is required. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/19JFkiVskhC85C9pgiPkb8itn6kFcE9gNZC3GRR00EMw/edit?usp=sharing

More Information

This lesson and presentation format can be adapted to teach any historical era in any of the upper grades. It can also be expanded to include additional art forms and historical content.

Art Forms



Social Studies


Loretta Walker



Estimated Time:  30 minutes


Teacher preparation: Preview the presentation and embedded links. Decide which parts you want to focus on and which parts you will treat more briefly. You may want to insert more slides containing additional information that is important for your students to know.

SLIDE 1: You may wish to set the tone for this lesson by dimming the lights or finding other ways to create a contemplative mood in the room. It would be best NOT to play music at this point.

Ask students to imagine that they have been transported to ancient Egypt. Have them imagine they are sitting in that time and place with their eyes shut (or with a blindfold on, or just waking up, or some other scenario in which they are listening only and not looking around). Have them imagine what they think they would hear.

After a few moments of silence, ask the students to share with the class what they think they would hear. Why might they hear those things?  


SLIDE 2: Briefly share and discuss some or all of the examples of "Egyptian" music on slide 2. Listen to each recording only as long as your students sustain interest.

Conclude that there are many popular ideas of what ancient Egyptian may have sounded like, but being (or having been) popular has very little to do with authenticity.  

Work Period

Slides 3-5: THIS IS THE HEART OF THE LESSON. Listen to the examples on two or three of these slides. As a teacher, DO NOT PROVIDE COMMENTARY on the music at this point. Let the students explore their own ideas and feelings about the music without direction from you.

(Be aware that you may not want to show the video on Slide 5 between 1:42-1:47. The rest of the videos in the presentation should be widely considered appropriate for use in a sixth grade classroom. Listen to each recording only as long as your students sustain interest.)

Pause after you listen to each selection. Have the students share their responses to the three questions on each slide. It does not matter if they answer the questions in order or if they combine answers. The point of this portion of the lesson is for them to explore their personal responses to each selection and lay the groundwork for connecting with the people of this ancient culture.

Be aware that once students start making these connections, they will want to continue having this discussion and the lesson may run longer than expected. If the students become absorbed in this discussion, it may be most effective to let the discussion run its course and then return to the remainder of the Powerpoint and lesson at a later time, if your schedule allows.

Slides 6-25: Continue the discussion as outlined in the presentation. 


Revisit the question, If you were transported back to ancient Egypt, what do you think you would hear? If you heard music, what do you think it would sound like?

You may want to add this additional level of challenge: When you give your answer, indicate whether you are thinking of sounds generally throughout Egyptian culture (across time periods, locations, and social classes) or if the sounds you describe might reflect a specific time, place, or social class.

You may wish to have your students respond in a discussion (class, small group, pair-share), in a written format (you decide the genre), in an artistic format, or by creating an instrument that was, or might have been, present in ancient Egypt.


Integration Information

Feel free to make a copy of this presentation and adapt it to work with other presentations or slides that you may have prepared to teach the history of ancient Egypt.

Most of the reconstructed Egyptian music accessed in the presentation is rather soft and slow. Some of the selections are quite long and might be suitable as background music for some activities in your classroom while you are studying Egypt.  


Adjust the timing of examples and depth of each of the discussions to meet the specific needs of your students. These adjustments may vary dramatically from class to class or group to group. This is a student-driven lesson.

The presentation of much of the material in this lesson in its original artistic format (music, visual art) facilitates inclusion of students with language limitations. Some students with language limitations may need to be given alternative ways to participate in the discussion portions of the lesson.


Students will identify characteristics of ancient Egyptian music and make connections between the style of the music and the culture from which it sprang.


How might the people of ancient Egypt have felt about music? How might their feelings about music have been the same or different than yours?






Historical Element

This lesson explores ancient Egypt, though the format could be adapted to any historical culture or era.

Fine Art Standards

Perceive and respond to the messages of music in various musical styles  

Integrated Standards

Identify cultural expressions of early civilizations