Bringing the Children’s Songs of the Rungus of Sabah into Malaysian Music Classrooms


  • Jinky Jane C. Simeon
  • Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan



children’s songs, lullaby, longoi tanganak, longoi pogondoi, Rungus, multicultural music education, Sabah


The Rungus are one of the indigenous Dusunic ethnic groups of Sabah, most of whom reside in the administrative Districts of Kudat and Pitas. In Rungus culture, many different genres of intangible cultural heritage have been passed down orally over generations. These heritages are valuable resources for teaching cultural awareness and appreciation among children of different ethnicities in Malaysia. They have yet to be introduced in the national music education curriculum. The purpose of this research was to document, transcribe, analyse, and thereafter to select the appropriate longoi tanganak (children’s songs) and longoi pogondoi (lullabies) that are suitable to be introduced into the Malaysia primary school music curriculum based on the recommendations of the culture bearers. This research employed ethnographic field techniques including participant observations, in-depth and focus group interviews, as well as audio and video recording. This article taps on the suggestions of culture bearers in developing suitable song repertoires that serve as school music teachers’ resources. Findings show that culture bearers recommended counting songs performed in recited heighten speech, songs arranged in the do- re- mi- so and do- mi- so tone sets, and rhythmic motifs based on the   and  patterns as beginner repertoire for learning Rungus songs.  



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Author Biographies

Jinky Jane C. Simeon

Jinky Jane C Simeon is a PhD candidate in Music Education at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). She graduated BA (Hons) in Music and served as a tutor in the then UMS School of Arts Studies in 2008, and subsequently obtained her Master of Arts (Music) in 2011. She is a winner of four PEREKA gold medals, two ITEX gold medals, one MTE gold medal, and was named as “Woman Inventor of the Year” in 2013. In 2014 at the Seoul International Invention Fair (SIIF), her project “The Tuniring” under the category of Teaching Research and Pedagogical Items won the gold medal and special awards from Taiwan Invention Association. Her research interests include early childhood music education, multicultural music education, Borneo music and dance. She is currently a music lecturer of the Academy of Arts and Creative Technology, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.


Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan

Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan is Professor of Ethnomusicology in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Head of the Indigenous Culture and Heritage Cluster of the Borneo Institute for Indigenous Studies, at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, where she previously held the Kadazandusun Chair (2003-2016). She graduated BA Honours (Class I) from Monash University (1976) and PhD from University of Queensland (1982) with theses on the music of the Huli of Papua New Guinea. She first came to Sabah in 1977, having married a member of the Kadazan Dusun, Sabah’s largest indigenous group, in 1976, and has conducted ethnomusicological research among many of Sabah’s cultures. Winner of two PEREKA gold medals, her research interests include music and language, music, dance and ritual processes, organology, ethnographic mapping, the sociolinguistic review of Ethnologue® descriptions of languages in Sabah, the megalithic culture of Tambunan, the Sabah Native Courts and customary law, and indigenous ritual responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a Fellow of the Borneo Research Council, a member of the ICTM Study Group on Performing Arts in Southeast Asia, sits on expert committees of Jabatan Warisan Negara Malaysia, was Adjunct Research Fellow of Anthropology in the School of Political and Social Enquiry, Monash University (2009-2010), and is also currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Science of Asia e University.



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How to Cite

Simeon, J. J. C., & Pugh-Kitingan, J. (2021). Bringing the Children’s Songs of the Rungus of Sabah into Malaysian Music Classrooms. Malaysian Journal of Music, 10(2), 54–73.