Music and Astronomy at
Cambridge Lakes Charter School (2010-2011)

The Question

How is chamber music a system? How do parts of music represent parts of astronomy? What elements make up our solar system, and how do humans interact to change them?

The Process

3rd and 6th graders at Cambridge Lakes Charter School learned about music and how it relates to all things Astronomy with Fifth House Ensemble. In a study of our solar system, students learned vocabulary appropriate to their ages as well as common theories and laws surrounding the study of space. In classes balanced with learning by “showing” and “doing”, topics such as the Big Bang Theory, the Milky Way, gravity, and space travel were made relevant and exciting to the students.

Simultaneously, students learned about music and how it also operates as a system similar to our Solar System. Standard topics such as rhythm, timbre, melody, harmony were studied interactively alongside the theories and history of music’s origin. Fifth House Ensemble guided the lessons with engaging performances and activities that demonstrated the beauty of music and relayed new information and connections to the students and teachers.

The Final Project

In a two part final performance, students displayed their knowledge by creating a living solar system and presenting research in small groups. 3rd grade students chose music to represent each planet, then created another aspect of performance (dance, poem, lyrics) to tie the project together. 6th grade students used research to create a poem, power point, or first-person journal exploring a topic of their choosing, which was then set to music performed by Fifth House Ensemble.