Music and Poetry at
Mather High School (2011-2012)

The Question

How is chamber music similar to poetry? How do authors and composers use similar tools to create moods, characters, settings or emotions? How can writing our own poetry link us to the music and the people surrounding us?

The Objectives

Students will know about the structure of poems and music (line structure, intro, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion)
Students will understand and demonstrate how to most effectively communicate their meaning when reading their poem
Students will fit music into a piece of text by using the many concepts of music
Students will understand that music, just like words, can create moods and evoke emotions

The Process

In another year of partnership with Mather High School, students were challenged to link music and language through the composition and analysis of poetry. Using entry points such as the five senses, leitmotif and timbre, and finding the voice of composers and students alike, teachers and members of Fifth House Ensemble explored a number of aspects central to learning about music and poetry. Students also used musical elements such as rhythm, ostinato, forms, and phrasing to inspire their own writing.

The Impact

“The biggest thing they gain is confidence. For most of them this is the only time they will stand on that stage and present to so many other students, so after working on this with Fifth House they just have so much more confidence to do that again for other classes or in college.” –Mary Rose O’Shea, Teacher, Mather High School

The Final Project

For the final presentation, a poetry slam, students integrated the music into an original poem, opting to have part of the music played before, during, or after parts of their poem based on what they had learned about poetry and music. A number of parents and community members attended the final performance to witness the work of many successful students.