Music, Inspiration and Storytelling at
Orr Academy High School (2014)

The Question

What are ways a character can be identified in music? What is chamber music? How can students use music to relate to poetry, drama, and literature? How does music inspire us?

The Objectives

Students will find the elements of a narrative in music with and without lyrics

Students will respond to musical and verbal prompts to write a personal story

Students will practice using their five senses to write poetry based on music

Students will describe how music inspires listeners

“There’s a very common, obvious thread among all of your stories.  That’s the power of music.  Nobody came in here and told you to talk about a time you overcame struggle or adversity, but that’s what all of you came up with.  And that’s because of the music you were listening to.” – Jennifer Woodrum, Fifth House Ensemble clarinetist

The Process

Orr Academy High School students gave Fifth House Ensemble an exciting opportunity to connect with the high school students of Humboldt Park.  The classes had intelligent discussions relating excerpts of music to a time in their personal life where they felt inspired.  Fifth House Ensemble members co-taught in classes for 5 visits total and taught musical concepts like ostinato and leitmotif in a way that students could relate to – either through classical music, or through the music of their everyday lives.

The Impact

When asked the question “What effect does telling your story have on the people who participated in the story circle?”
One student reflected: “These stories inspire the people who read them or listen to them.  By relating to the story it motivates them to pursuit greater and bigger dreams these stories show that anything is possible.”

The Final Project

This final performance was led by Fifth House Ensemble and the students of Orr Academy High School were encouraged to interact with the performance.  The involvement asked of Orr showcased the musical knowledge the students strengthened throughout the residency.