Minisink Valley Elementary first-grade students get a taste of Albanian music, dance and culture in music class

students dancingOngoing collaborative teacher-parent efforts are one of many keys to student success at Minisink Valley schools and take place in many ways.

Recently, Lisa Junçaj, mother of John Junçaj — a student in Maureen Cardinale’s Minisink Valley’s first-grade class, visited music teacher Cliff Loretto’s music class to teach students about Albanian folk music, dance and culture.

children with instrumentsIt was a great opportunity to support the district’s  rich and varied music curriculum offered to students.

The Junçaj family has been actively involved in Albanian folk dance and culture for generations. Music  has a long tradition in Albania, known for its regional diversity, from the Ghegs in the north to the Tosks in the south. It is an integral part of the national identity, strongly influenced by the country’s long and turbulent history.

Lady with musical instrumentsTo begin, Mrs. Junçaj showed students where Albania is located on a world map.  Each student was given the opportunity to play the lahutë (a traditional bowed instrument) and got to hold the çifteli (an instrument with two strings).

In addition to playing instruments and listening to music, some students even tried on handmade Albanian clothing including: the çakshir (traditional boys clothing), the xublet (traditional girl’s clothing) and qeleshe (skullcaps).

Of course, music involves dance, and to conclude the class lesson Mrs. Junçaj taught the children a valle (traditional circle dance). Student volunteers took turns being the shote (dancers in the middle of the circle).

“Thank you to Mrs. Junçaj for visiting music class,” added Mr. Loretto. “It was a truly fun and educational experience for all.”