Using stories to inspire children’s s compositions — stage 2

STAGE 2 — Developing a Rhythmic Piece 

A way to build a piece of music is to use the rhythms of the characters’ names. The resulting rhythmic piece can be performed using instruments, voices or even body parts.

The six characters we identified in The Snow-maiden were:

Snegurochka, the snow-maiden 

Father Winter

Mother Spring



The Old Woodcutter and his Wife


To develop a rhythmic piece from these names, here are some things your children might try:

  • they might chant each name
  • or chant each name four times
  • they might add a regular beat on a drum;
  • chant each name (or phrase) four times followed by the next name and each subsequent name
  • use a different body part of each new name (for example: shoulders, knees, then stamping feet)
  • perform as a round
  • split into smaller groups and try using instruments to play the rhythm of each name
  • explore how the names can be put together in an interesting way; this way building a musical structure, a form

Note that we talking all the time about the musical elements.

If you divide the children into groups you should give them all clear rules. An example of possible rules is given below. 

Exemplary rules:

  • The piece must be at a constant tempo 
  • The piece should last between 45 and 60 seconds
  • There should be at least three different rhythms 
  • The must be times when one person plays, two people play, three people play, all play (= a varied texture)
  • Add an interesting introduction and ending (coda) (= a structure/form) 


Coda is the name for a closing section in music, the last section of a given form.

A round (a sort of canon) is a piece in which two or more voices sing exactly the same melody with each voice beginning at different times.


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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