July 17, 2020
Stories in Music Activity Ideas
Our encore broadcast of Stories in Music, designed for children in grades 3-6, explores how some composers tell stories in music with fascinating results—painting musical pictures of people, places and whatever they see around them.
Tune in Thursday, July 23, at 11 a.m. for the concert. Learn more about the program here.
We hope that your family enjoys watching the concert together this summer and encourage you to explore the following ideas for more deeply engaging with the theme and music. Feel free to tailor these suggestions to fit your family’s ages and interests, or come up with your own activities for before, during or after the concert.
Try These Activities at Home
Curriculum Explore composer and artist biographies, program notes, and music education activities designed for students in grades 3-6
Have you ever noticed that some of your favorite movie characters have their own theme songs? Try creating your own!
Exploring Emotions Go on an interactive musical journey exploring joy, sadness, surprise, and the other emotions.
We would love to see your creative responses to the music!
Additional Ideas and Resources
Get to Know the Concert Music
A perfect activity for a concert called Stories in Music is to create your own tales to accompany the music on the program. This can be as simple as making visual art or moving to express what you’re feeling or thinking while you listen to the music, but you can also spend some time getting to know the pieces first if you would like to develop a story in more detail. Listen and see how you would answer the following questions:
- What do you notice in the music? How would you describe the sounds of the different instruments that you hear?
- What comes to mind when you listen to the music? What about the music reminds you of those words, images, stories or memories?
- How do you think the composer wants to make you feel? What makes you say that? (Check out our Emotion Word List if you would like additional ideas for describing the way in which the music makes you feel.)
Create and Share Your Own Story
- Transform your ideas into a concrete story by using clues like instrument choice, tempo (speed) and dynamics (volume) to figure out where the story takes place, who the characters are, what they are like, what they are doing, and how they feel about what is happening.
- Once you have decided what you think is happening to the characters at various points in the story, map out the plot in our storyboard template.
- Think about how to share your story with others. Will you create a piece of visual art? A music video with dancing or new lyrics to an instrumental piece? A play?
If you are thinking about creating a play, would you write a script or improvise? Could you make costumes, props or puppets with materials found at home? Which role(s) would you give to each person in your family? Play the music again while acting out your interpretation of the story together.
Investigate Musical Storytelling in Film
Interested in exploring musical stories beyond the examples on our concert? Think about how some of your favorite movie characters have their own theme songs. There’s a fancy word for that: leitmotif. A leitmotif is a recurring musical theme representing a character, place or idea. Composers often use leitmotifs to enhance the storytelling in a film.
Check out our Create Your Own Theme Song activity to explore two famous leitmotifs and try creating your own! Then see if you can pay close attention to what the music is telling you the next time you watch your favorite movie. Or, if you want to create your own film score, experiment with adding music to old home movies. Have fun seeing how different pieces change the feel of the narrative.
Whether you try any of the activities or simply watch the concert together, we hope that Stories in Music will spark curiosity and joy for your family. Enjoy the concert!