Music and Storytelling at
Beasley Academic Center (2013)

The Question

What stories do we hear when we listen to music? How does music affect our connection to written stories? What elements of a narrative do composers use to write their musical stories? How can we tell our own stories through connections to music?

The Process

Fourth grade students at Beasley Academic Center, together with members from Fifth House Ensemble, connected the art of storytelling to music through a wide variety of interactive activities and writing workshops. Through interactions with live chamber music, students learned how music can convey plots, characters, settings, and moods, and also explored how to effectively tell their own stories with or without music.

Topics such as rhythm, timbre, melody, ostinato, intsrumentation, descriptive language, the five senses, rising action, falling action, and climax were integrated into students’ lessons, providing a unique take on the classrooms’ existing curriculum while also highlighting the importance and wonder of the musical language

 

The Impact

“I believe its the kids being able to make those connections. A lot of times what happens is you learn something in isolation, music in isolation, drama in isolation, reading in isolation. But the ability to be able to pull it all together, and to be able to put everything you’ve learned together, that’s amazing.” –Raconetta Jacobs, teacher, Beasley Academic Center

 

The Final Project

In groups of 3-7, students created their own narratives based on their own experiences and music that was provided by Fifth House Ensemble. Students were encouraged to use their new musical vocabularies to develop descriptive and imaginative plots and characters based on the music from the 2013 Caught: The Web performances. Students also used the music as an inspiration for forming visual interpretations of their stories, which were then turned into toy theatre scenes with help from collaborating artist Emmy Bean. Students presented their final stories interspersed with their musical selections on the Beasley stage, with an audience of their teachers and peers.