Using stories to inspire children’s s compositions — stage 1

STAGE 1 — the story

There are many different versions of every folk tale. We have received a treasury of legends, myths, and stories, handed down from generation to generation. Until very recently, this has been an oral tradition, meaning that the stories evolve and change according to the circumstances of each re-telling. If we are ourselves re-telling the story in music, there is no reason why we should not draw on the many versions of each story and change them, putting them into a format which is easy to explore in music.


First, explore various versions of your chosen story and then adapt it to fit the needs and the age group of your children. 

Here is an adaption of the The Snow-maiden which might be suitable for Year 5.

A childless couple dream of having a child and make an ice daughter in the forest. 
Father Winter and Mother Spring decide to make their dream come true and give life to their statue. 
Snegurochka, the snow-maiden, is happy in the forest and plays with the forest creatures each day. 
She watches from her window as the humans go to a celebration and sees Misgir, the merchant, and his fiancée Coupava.
She persuades her parents to let her go to the celebrations but is warned by Father Winter not to fall in love. 
The snow-maiden meets Lel, the shepherd, but she runs away. 
Lel comes to her cottage and plays the flute for her. He persuades Snegurochka to come and dance. 
She falls in love and melts away. 

This is different from the first version you read in this booklet, and shows how, although details might change, the meaning and beauty of the story is still strong.


Next, list the key characters in the story. In our version of The Snow-maiden there are six:

  1. Father Winter 
  2. Mother Spring 
  3. Snegurochka, the snow-maiden
  4. An old couple 
  5. Misgir & Coupava 
  6. Lel


An excellent on-line source of children’s versions of folk tales is:


Using stories to inspire children’s compositions

Stage 1 — the story
The elements of music
Stage 2 — developing a rhythmic piece
Stage 3 — developing a melody
Stage 4 — creating a soundscape
Stage 5 — creating a song
Stage 6 — graphic scores
Painting to music
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