Music Tells a Story at
New Field Elementary School (2013)

The Question

How can music create and portray distinctive characters? How can we hear characters’ voices in music and in written stories? How can movement, form, articulation, and rhythm tell and enhance the stories of our characters?

The Process

In our continuing partnership with Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play program, students at New Field Elementery did an in-depth study of music, the blues, and the book “Ol’ Bloo’s Blues”. Through a series of creative lessons, students learned about healthy singing, setting up stories with descriptions and with tempo, timbre, instrumentation, form, and instrumentation. They also were introduced to rhythmic, formal, and historical elements of the Blues.

Activities such as “Musical Weather”, “Character Voices: Leitmotifs”, and “Move to the Beat” helped students create a comprehensive picture of each of the 5 characters in “Ol’ Bloo’s Blues.” A number of composition-based activities ensured that students were thinking creatively and connecting the concepts learned from these visits to the curriculum that existed within their classrooms.


The Impact

“Class Collaboration was one of the greatest apects of this residency. The final project asked each of the students to dance, sing, and create unique characters from their book. However, in order to do so they had to be able to work together as a single unit. The way these students came together, cheered each other on, and worked to create something greater than themselves was truly inspiring.” -Eric Snoza, bassist, Fifth House Ensemble

The Final Project

Each class was assigned a character from “Ol’ Bloo’s Blues” to represent in their Class Act. With help from the members of Fifth House Ensemble, these classes created a character leitmotif and movement to represent their specific character. They also made simple musical instruments and masks to help in a retelling of the whole story. As a larger group, students created a “theme song” in the form of a blues ballad, which, together with the class creative components, was performed for the school and in the Ravinia Days performance.