Music and Storytelling at
Lowell Elementary (2015)

The Question

How do elements of storytelling relate to elements of music? How can music inspire/influence a story? How can music relate to our own lives? What advice would you expect to hear from yourself 10 years in the future?

The Objectives

  1. Students will understand the multiple connections between music and the elements of storytelling through a variety of activities.
  2. Students will work in groups to write a letter to themselves in the future, reflecting back on a past experience.
  3. Students will choose music that reflects the mood of the letter that they write.

The Process

Fifth House musicians visited Ms. Hogan’s 5th grade English and Ms. Grey’s 6th grade Literacy classes once a week over a 10-week period. During this time, students engaged in activities that drew connections between music and storytelling, and Fifth House musicians collaborated with teachers to help the students refine their stories and practice their public speaking skills.

In the example below, students listen to a piece of music and think of a character that fits with the music. Students are asked to explain what traits of the character are reflected in the music.

The Impact

“A truly inspiring transformation occurred in a team of four  fifth grade boys, one of whom was an ESL student and native Spanish speaker. The other students went out of their way to help him and even to translate his written work, but he was very shy to speak English himself. The week before the final performance, his teacher suggested that one of the boy’s teammates could read his lines. Because I have witnessed firsthand the tremendous power in students  sharing the stage with Fifth House musicians as equal partners, I shared a story with the group: that I too, was once an ESL student and had to deliver a presentation in English after three months of living in the U.S., and how terrified I was for it, but that I ultimately decided to perform. I gave him the option to not present, but I told him how proud and accomplished he would feel if he could do it. Not knowing what to expect during the dress rehearsal, I was thrilled that he got up to deliver his lines and did so deliberately and perfectly! His whole class cheered for him and his teammates patted him on the back as they left the stage. In the actual performance, he looked nervous but composed, and again succeeded. His teacher and I fought back tears as he finished his lines, and I will never forget that sparkle of accomplishment and satisfaction in his eyes!”

– Herine Koschak, Fifth House Cellist

The Final Project

Students shared the stage with Fifth House in Lowell Elementary’s auditorium to present their letters with musical accompaniment and artwork to reflect the action in the letter.