Music and Poetry at Perez Elementary (2009-2010)

The Question

How is music similar to poetry? How do composers create effects with music? How are senses and feelings best expressed in poetry?

The Process

With the help of the teacher and Fifth House ensemble, 8th grade students not only learned about poetry, but linked it with subjects across the curriculum. After discussing the SOAPS (Subject, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Speaker), characters, and emotions involved with reading and writing poetry, students practiced writing and interpreting poetry of different forms. Selections of classical repertoire were used as inspiration in weekly writing journals, and terms applying to poetry and public speaking were reviewed with the whole class. Special attention was given to proper delivery of poems and speaking for an audience, which was a new experience for many of the students.

Simultaneously, music and its purposes were being examined with the help of Fifth House Ensemble members. Music central to the classical repertoire was explored with new vocabulary, reflection ideas, and performances. In one activity, students were challenged to use the same ideas used in interpreting poetry to follow “storylines” in pieces such as the Serenata from Pulcinella.

The Final Project

For the final presentation, students were asked to write a poem in a form of their choosing, paying certain attention to studied aspects such as sensory detain, meter, and clear delivery. Students then chose a piece of music that fit with their poem’s mood and form. Fifth House Ensemble performed these selections during the final performance, which was attended by the entire school community, including students, teachers, administrators, and families.

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