Music and Poetry at
Bridge Elementary (2012)

The Question

How is chamber music similar to poetry? How do writers and composers utilize characters, the five senses, figurative language, structure and mood to express ideas? Through creating poetry, what can we learn about music, performance, language, and ourselves?

The Objectives

Students will review various forms of poetry with distinct rhythmic patterns: limerick, couplets, iambic pentameter (sonnets), and will link with musical rhythms
Students will use the SOAPS concept (subject, occasion, audience, purpose, speaker) to determine what a composer’s purpose was as well as an author’s
Students will explain how music can be used to describe concrete objects
Students will practice using their five senses to write poetry based on music

The Process

Eighth graders at Bridge Elementary school were guided through the many connections between music and poetry using inventive lesson plans with the end goal of a final project. As a result of this collaboration between members of Fifth House Ensemble and teachers at Bridge Elementary, students learned about musical vocabulary, use of the five senses to create vivid descriptions, different musical instruments, rhythm and ostinato, public speaking, figurative language (including similies, metaphors, and personifications), and how music can describe emotions, characters, and objects.

The Impact

“It was amazing to see how uniformly a certain tune would get the students to engage in the same object in the room–even from class to class. They all had really interesting and thoughtful responses to what we played.  They clearly hear when music is painting a literal picture.” – Fifth House musician 

The Final Project

In groups, students wrote poems based on the chamber music they experienced during the residency. Through writing workshops focused on meter, purpose, and delivery, each student developed the skills needed to perform in a poetry slam with their peers and live musicians. The eighth grade poetry slam has now become a yearly tradition at Bridge Elementary as a result of this annual residency.