Using stories to inspire children’s s compositions — stage 4

STAGE 4 — Creating a Soundscape 

Choose a scene from your story. Ask the children to imagine:

  • what can they hear? 
  • what can they see?
  • how do they feel?
  • what mood do they want to create?

Make a list of the children’s ideas. Remember to include the time of day and the weather. 

Divide the children into pairs or small groups and ask each group to make a sound picture of one of the ideas. They should use their voices and their bodies to create a picture in sound. Children might use breath sounds to mimic the idea of ‘a gentle breeze’, for example.

Gather the class together, and listen to each group perform. Discuss each performance with the class using the elements of music.

You might then link the ideas together into a new story, or, better still, one based on your fairy-tale. Here’s a story based on the snow-maiden:

Snegurochka skips into the forest. A gentle breeze is blowing. She hears the leaves, branches, the crunch of her feet on the ground, a stream in the distance. She sees a number of creatures. 
It becomes dark. 
She starts to feel a little anxious and runs home.

Using a story, you can organise the ideas into a chronological order (a form/structure). You can also introduce music for different characters (‘She sees a number of creatures’), played perhaps on classroom instruments. As in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, a different instrument or group of instruments could represent each animal.

Record your performance, both to preserve the children’s compositions, and as a way for them to refine and further improve them.

You might also use a graphic score to write down the final composition.


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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