In this unit, students read like detectives, asking questions and looking for clues about what characters are thinking, feeling, and doing. As they read, students compose music that represents those investigations in order to gain a deeper understanding of the characters and how they relate to the central theme of the story.
In this unit, students create a whole-class musical composition to Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, a Newbery Medal winning author. Seedfolks is told in a series of character chapters connected by a central theme. To prepare, students become “reading detectives,” annotating the text as they ask questions and look for clues about what characters are thinking, feeling, and doing. In doing so, they are making inferences and text-to-text connections and working toward identifying a central theme of the book. As students read, they learn a range of music elements and create music using classroom instruments and found objects to represent what they have learned about the characters. As a culminating event, the class creates and performs a Seedfolks Composition for an invited audience.
Intention of Unit
A4L Unit 4, Planting a Community, was initially designed and developed to target four primary literacy goals that were identified by teachers as particularly difficult for their students to master and apply – making inferences, text-to-text connections, determining theme, and annotating text. The integration of an art form was perceived as a promising character traits with musical sounds and rhythm, by inspiring students to express and convey meaning and emotions, and to facilitate visualization of a theme for the text.
Unit 4 Art Form
The art form designed for this Unit is music. In much the same way that a story is conveyed in motion pictures or any media arts genre, the music is interwoven and connected to the text and images to identify and guide the viewer’s emotional interpretation of about what the characters are thinking, feeling and doing. E.g.; the musical score is connected to descriptions of images and actions so that once the viewers have experienced the combined words with associated sounds, they can visualize what is happening when only the associated music is heard.
The creation of music through found objects as well as available musical instruments is used as the art genre in this Unit. This decision was made to comply with the strategy for equity and access used in all the A4L Units so that all students could experience the creation of a musical score even though their school may not have access to traditional musical instruments and students are not already knowledgeable about how to play them.
This approach of relying on sounds, rhythm, dynamics, duration, pitch and timbre is not unprecedented and is masterfully used in music and dance compositions such as the Stomp and in the motion picture August Rush, as well as many other examples. By using found objects to make sounds that convey the personality traits and actions of the characters in Seedfolks, students learn to listen intently and to discriminate the meaning of sounds and to be resourceful in finding ways to create music without formal music instruction.
Vocal Music: In addition to using music produced with found objects, a musical alternative is to use sounds produced by the human voice or body. For example, the voice can also produce sounds that create different levels of dynamics, duration, pitch and timbre. The voice alone is sufficient to produce the range of sounds and variations to define the characteristics of each character in the text and a thematic overview of the book. The voice may also be effectively supplemented by sounds created using other parts of the body (e.g. clapping, rubbing hands, humming, stomping feet, etc.) or through a combination of voice and use of other found objects or musical instruments as suggested in the Unit.
Visual Arts & Writing: A substitute for the art genre of music could also be visual arts and writing, in which the students complement the association of sounds with quick linear gesture drawings and later with colors that convey character traits, emotions, and action.
Newly Added Feature: This Unit's student texts have been translated into Spanish.
Common Core State Standards
Arts for Learning is aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language. This Overview describes the scope of the standards and this Quick Reference Guideprovides each of the standards fully or partially met within this A4L Unit, followed by the charts that specifically identify the standards addressed in each lesson and step in the Unit. The standards are also coded and listed at the beginning of each lesson in the unit. Arts for Learning also provides a comprehensive student assessment program in each unit. This A4L Assessment Toolkit Quick Reference Chartindicates an overview of the locations of the tasks to be scored in the unit.
Each A4L unit is developed on a common framework and contains a 3-part sequence of instruction that educational research suggests will help students become more self-directed, independent learners. There is a gradual hand-off of responsibility--from teacher to students-- that is supported by assessment and teacher help as needed. Throughout A4L units the arts serve as motive and means to advance reading for meaning and writing thoughtfully.
RL 3.3: Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
RL 3.7: Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)
RL 4.3: Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
RL 4.7: Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.
RL 5.3: Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
RL 5.7: Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).
Speaking & Listening
SL 3.1b: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
SL 3.1c: Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.
SL 3.1d: Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
SL 3.3: Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
SL 3.6: Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
SL 4.1b: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
SL 4.1c: Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.
SL 4.1d: Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
SL 4.3: Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.
SL 4.6: Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
SL 5.1b: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
SL 5.1c: Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
SL 5.1d: Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.
SL 5.3: Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.
SL 5.6: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
RL 4.2: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
RL 5.2: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
-Connecting Theme To Movie Soundtracks (link to menu in Step 7b)
Life & Learning Skills
Unit 4 includes the following Life & Learning Skills:
-Critical and analytic thinking
Differentiation Options will appear throughout the unit to suggest ways to scaffold or challenge student learning. Use the number of helping hands to select the level of differentiation that best supports student learning.
Highest level of scaffolding. Select this option if students are learning strategies for the first time, if the text is challenging for them, or if students require more guidance during activities. The Unit is written for the highest level of scaffolding.
Moderate scaffolding. Select this option if students require some support comprehending the text or navigating the activity.
Least amount of scaffolding/Extending the instruction. Select this option if students are ready to work more independently, move more quickly through the material, or are ready for additional challenge.
Key instructional steps where the arts are used to leverage literacy-learning (and vice versa) are marked with . Smaller leveraging moments also occur throughout the lessons.
Process: Start the Planting a Community unit by engaging students in a discussion about reading like a detective. Then, explain the purpose and activities of the unit. Walk students through the Unit Overview to help them know where they are in the learning process. Hand out the A4L Notebooks and A4L Texts.
ELL Support: Comprehensible Input
Support ELL language development and comprehension by starting with a short vocabulary lesson using Vocabulary Snapshots to provide multi-sensory pre-learning for words that may be unfamiliar to culturally diverse students. Click here for a sample lesson plan.
Recommended vocabulary from Peter and the Wolf to pre-teach with Vocabulary Snapshots:
Flute - Bassoon
Oboe - French Horn
Clarinet - Strings
Sample Visual Icons for Peter and the Wolf
Click for Vocabulary Snapshot activities for Peter and the Wolf using these visual icons and more.
Differentiation Options: Helping Hands
Use the number of helping hands to select the level of differentiation that best supports student learning.
Highest level of scaffolding. Select this option if students are learning strategies for the first time, if the text is challenging for them, or if students require more guidance during activities. Part 1 lessons are written for the highest level of scaffolding.
Moderate scaffolding. Select this option if students require some support comprehending the text or navigating the activity.
Least amount of scaffolding/Extending the instruction. Select this option if students are ready to work more independently, move more quickly through the material, or are ready for additional challenge.
Differentiation Option: Visual Arts and Writing
If choosing this option, the students will still engage in the music exercise of listening to musical scores, such as Peter and the Wolf (an exercise presented in Part 1, Lesson 1), in which they learn to listen intently to the musical interpretation by Sergei Prokofiev (sair-gay pro-CO-fee-ev), and to discriminate differences in the sounds, then describe the sounds they hear that represent each character’s traits. This exercise also promotes their ability to visualize characters and actions and to envision scenes and colors, as well as identifying associated sounds that complement those images.
Visual Art Exercise
To introduce the use of visual imagery, the students should engage in the listening exercise as described in the A4L curriculum by listening to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, closing their eyes to listen and visualize, and then collectively identifying and recording words to describe the dynamics, duration, pitch and timbre of the musical motif for each character. These words are recorded by the teacher on a chart (template provided in the Resources section) Note: See the video example of a teacher conducting this exercise in his class. To introduce the use of visual arts as a complement to written words and music, provide the students with a blank piece of paper on which they should be asked to sketch a quick linear drawing, called a “gesture drawing,” that conveys the personality traits, appearance and movement of each character. A gesture drawing is only a few quick, fluid lines that show the action of the charterer without detail. It should take no more than a minute to create and the gesture shows meaning through the direction, curvature, intensity and characteristic of the lines. This parallels the characteristics of the musical sounds that differ in dynamics (bold or faint), duration (continuous and flowing or short, rapidly repeated), pitch (high or low in sound and larger or smaller in scale if sketched), and timbre (which is quality and color of both sound and sketched images).
Visual Art Exercise: Visual Art Vocabulary
Gesture Drawing: a work of art defined by rapid execution. Typical situations involve an artist drawing a series of poses taken by a model in a short amount of time, often as little as 30 seconds, or as long as 2 minutes. Gesture drawing is often performed as a warm-up for a life drawing session.
The artist may also be observing or visualizing animals, as well as people, going about normal activities with no special effort to pause for the artist. For example, drawing from people on the street, performers, athletes, or drawing animals at the zoo.
More generally, a gesture drawing may be any drawing which attempts to capture action or movement.
Use of gesture drawings in this A4L Unit
The gestures drawing created by the students are intended to be quick, simple symbolic illustrations that capture the character traits of each character. The students may add their gesture drawings to the description of the character traits in Seedfolks for Kim, Ana, Wendell, Gozalo and others, as part of the exercise in the Student Notebook. The collection of these gestures will complement and facilitate their understanding of inferences and text-to-text connections, determining theme, and will promote clearer visualization and interpretation of the character traits as they annotate the text.
Examples of Gesture Drawings
Though the gesture drawing examples above are all figures, gesture drawing isn’t limited to just the human form. Animals, Objects, and even Scenes can be captured in the style of gesture drawing.
The creation and accumulation of the gesture drawings with the addition of color and composition will be synthesized to become symbols that will be used to create a final visual composition in colored pencils and pastels that convey the “Theme” of the book, Seedfolks. This creation of the final composition may be created individually and may also incorporate selected words that describe each character and the thematic bond that connects them to each other. Each student will author a written statement about the theme (as guided in the series of activities in their A4L Student Notebook – see Reflection Journal for each character and the creation of a Seedfolks Central Theme, pg. 29). This statement should be displayed with the visual arts composition. These two complementary activities provide a powerful reinforcement of text-to-text connections, visualization of word meaning, and a deeper understanding of how a theme is created between word meaning and visual imagery.
While the alternative of a visual arts composition to complement the written theme may be a viable and effective option, it does not necessarily replace the creation of a musical theme performed with found objects. Both art forms may be used as an even stronger way of tapping into all students’ learning styles and interests and deepening understanding of inference, text-to-text connections and theme.
Beginning Unit 4
"We are beginning an Arts for Learning unit called Planting a Community. In Arts for Learning units, you combine reading and the arts to get even better at both. In this unit, we're going to become reading detectives and musicians.
What do detectives do? (Students respond.) Detectives look for clues and ask themselves questions as they investigate. Readers do the same thing--they read like detectives, because sometimes authors don't come right out and tell them what they want the reader to know. A good author will often tell a story little by little, clue by clue, inviting the reader to figure out what's really going on. Readers have to ask themselves questions, stop and think about what things mean, and look for clues so they can figure out how things come together."
"This is the Unit Overview for Students, which will help us know where we're going as the unit progresses (show Unit Overview for Students and highlight each part). We'll read a story called Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman, and learn how to play music with found objects and classroom instruments to help us explore what the characters are thinking and feeling. Then, you'll take everything you've discovered in your investigations and create music for each character. The unit will culminate by combining these musical pieces into a whole class Seedfolks composition that we'll perform for an invited audience (school peers, friends, and family)."
"These are our A4L Notebooks and A4L Texts, which we'll use to process what we read." (Pass out A4L Notebooks and A4L Unit 4 Texts.)
Process: Give an overview of the lesson objectives: Engage in a pre-reading discussion of Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman; develop listening skills through a listening exercise; and listen to Peter and the Wolf, by Prokofiev, as an introduction to music elements and a character's theme.
Introducing Lesson 1 Texts
"Today we're going to get started with Seedfolks, by Paul Fleishman, and begin learning about music by engaging in a listening exercise and then listening to Peter and the Wolf, by Sergei Prokofiev (sair-gay pro-CO-fee-ev)."
"By the end of today's lesson, you will be able to say, 'I can describe the sounds I hear in a musical composition and identify characters' traits based on those sounds'."
Process: Engage in a pre-reading discussion of Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman. Begin reading like detectives by looking for clues using the title and cover, chapter titles, and pictures. Show the book on the document camera for students to see the images. Introduce the theme of community during the pre-reading discussion.
Thinking like a Detective
"Let's get started reading like detectives by looking at the cover ... Think like a detective: based on these clues, what do you think the book might be about?" (Students may respond: "It seems like each chapter might be about a different character" or "the characters all plant things.")
"All these characters live in the same neighborhood. Sometimes a neighborhood is called "a community." We're a community in this classroom, too. What do you think makes something a community? (Students respond.) As reading detectives, we're going to find out how these characters get to know each other and become a community."
"We'll begin reading the story after we learn a little bit about music."
Process: Develop students' listening skills by talking about what it means to listen and hear sounds and then by playing clips from the movie August Rush. Ask students to describe the sounds they hear. Record descriptors on the board. See Supporting Listening Skills menu below for teaching tips.
Step 4a Alternatives: Beyond YouTube
If you do not have access to YouTube, check a local library for a DVD or create your own listening exercise.
A. Optional resource
Look for a DVD of the movie August Rush (2008) at your local library or other source. Using the scene selection mode, the scenes used for instruction are 00:00 - 2:05 and 26:45 - 28:18. You may want to block the viewing as you fast forward to the 2nd segment to avoid PG material.
B. Create your own listening exercise
-Take your students outside during a non-recess period. Have them sit on the grass or pavement. Take chart paper and pencils to record student responses. Alternatively, keep them in the classroom at their desks. If possible, open doors and windows.
-Explain that we are sharpening our listening skills. Have students close their eyes, take a deep breath, and sit still.
Prompts: Just sit and listen for three minutes. Listen for sounds you hear close by and far away.
-Ask students to describe what they heard. List responses on board or chart paper.
Prompts: What adjectives would you use to describe the sounds? How did the cars sound? (Low, whooshing sound.) How is that different from the birds singing? (Birds are higher, shorter sounds.)
-If possible, repeat the exercise in another location. For instance, return to the classroom and listen again, or repeat the exercise at another time of day.
Step 4b Teaching Tip: Supporting Listening Skills
To help students continue to develop their listening skills, consider the following tips...
-Have students close their eyes while they listen to music. This will help them focus on the different sounds they hear.
-Play music in short segments. Prior to playing a segment of music, tell students what to listen for and then have them share what they heard with a partner before the next segment.
-Incorporate movement into the listening exercise. After listening to each segment, have students create a movement that matches what they heard. They can do this sitting at desks or on their feet. Then ask students to think of words to describe their movements.
Step 4c Connecting Literacy & Art: Music and Reading Connections
-Encourages close reading & reflective thinking
As students create and reflect on music, they ponder what they have learned about the characters from the text. They think deeply about word meaning (what does sad really mean, feel, sound like?), dialogue with peers and the teacher about their discoveries and inferences, and share how they've chosen to represent the unfolding story through music. Selecting instruments to play and how to play them requires revisiting and reflecting on the text.
-Supports understanding of theme
Putting together the rondo composition for Seedfolks helps students understand how the characters relate to a central story theme.
Sharpening our Listening Skills
"In order to make music, we first need to sharpen our listening skills. I am going to play the opening scene from the movie August Rush. This is a movie about an orphaned boy who uses music to help him find his birth parents. As you listen, try to identify the natural sounds you hear. You may also hear some man-made music. Get ready to listen by putting down your pencils, taking a deep breath, and sitting still. You can watch the film or close your eyes and just listen." (Support students in getting ready to listen.)
Dialogue for movie clip from 0:00-2:06
"What did you hear? Can you describe the sounds?" (Students respond. Record descriptors on board.)
"I'm going to play another clip, this time you will hear sounds from the city. Most people hear these sounds as "noise" but the boy hears them as music."
Dialogue for movie clip from 3:01-4:36
"What did you hear? What words can you use to describe the sounds? Could you tell if something was close or far away? How could you tell?" (Students respond. For example, "I hear clanking sounds as he steps on the grating," or "I hear whooshing and hissing sounds from the steam." Listen again if desired. Record descriptors on board.)
Guide additional listening exercise
"Let's use our listening skills to describe the sounds around us. (Have students go outside or stay in the classroom.) Close your eyes and concentrate on the sounds you hear. What kinds of sounds are they? What words can you use to describe those sounds? (Students close their eyes and listen for several minutes.) What did you hear? What words can you use to describe those sounds?" (Students respond. Record descriptors on board.)
Process: Introduce Peter and the Wolf, and give a short background about the composer, Sergei Prokofiev (sair-gay pro-CO-fee-ev). Read the story summary for Peter and the Wolf.
Connecting Literacy & Art: Making Inferences
As students listen to Peter and the Wolf and describe what the sounds they hear tell them about the characters, they are making inferences. Inferring is the process of taking what is in the text (or piece of music) and combining it with relevant background knowledge to make meaning. Students draw on what they know from music, film, television, and theater to determine whether the characters are happy, grouchy, scary, or sneaky. As the unit progresses, students will develop their inferring skills as they create their own themes for characters in Seedfolks.
Introducing Peter and the Wolf
"We are about to listen to Peter and the Wolf, by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (sair-gay pro-CO-fee-ev). This piece of music is played by an orchestra using real instruments. You will not be expected to learn how to play these instruments in this unit. We will be working with found objects and classroom instruments. But listening to Peter and the Wolf will help us learn about music and how we might create our music for the characters in Seedfolks."
"In 1938, Prokofiev was commissioned, or hired, to write music that would introduce children to instruments found in a symphony orchestra. He was so excited by the request that he created a piece that told a story and composed it in four days."
"Before we listen, I'll read a short summary of the story." (Read Story Summary: Peter and the Wolf).
Process: Listen to the introduction of Peter and the Wolf, which familiarizes the listener to the various themes and the characters they represent. Pause at the end of the introduction, after the hunter's theme. Feel free to show images of instruments and characters from this resources page.
A4L Music CD: Track 1, Peter and the Wolf, by Sergei Prokofiev The Introduction (approx. 2-3 minutes).
Listening to the Introduction of Peter and the Wolf
"We'll begin with the Introduction of Peter and the Wolf, which is narrated. Prokofiev wrote the narration so the listeners would know what instruments they were hearing and what characters they represented. In Peter and the Wolf, each character is represented by a specific musical idea that is played by one or more instruments."
"Get ready to listen. You can close your eyes or keep them opened. Ready?" (Play A4L Music CD: Track 1, Peter and the Wolf, The Introduction, pause at end of track.)
Process: Introduce the concept of a musical theme. A theme is a sound or series of sounds (rhythmic or melodic) that create a musical idea, which is important to the structure of the composition. It can represent a specific character, mood or idea. Record the definition of "Musical Theme" on a chart for later reference. Relate to movie soundtracks (see menu below) as a way to help students understand how a musical theme embodies big ideas, characters, or feelings. Without showing images, play a clip from the main theme for Star Wars.
Step 7a Connecting Literacy & Music: Themes
In this unit, "theme" is used both as a literacy and a music term, representing the big ideas that tie a piece of music or a story together.
In a story, a theme is a big idea, or one of several, that gives the story its meaning. In music, a theme is a musical idea that is important to the structure of the composition. These concepts come together in the final Seedfolks Composition.
Theme is used three ways:
1. Central Story Theme - this term is used for the "big idea" the class selects as the main theme of the story.
2. Character Theme - this term is used for the piece of music students create for each character. Each chapter is a character vignette and thus operates as a mini-story with its own big idea(s). By tracking the themes of the character vignettes, students will be able to identify big ideas that span across the entire story.
3. Seedfolks Theme - this term is used for the main musical theme composed for the final Seedfolks Composition. The Seedfolks Theme is a musical interpretation of the Central Story Theme.
Step 7b Alternatives: Connecting Theme to Movie Soundtracks
Extend the connection to popular movie scores by listening to clips and discussing how the music evokes the characters, mood, and big ideas of the story.
Option 1: Compare main themes from different movies
-Star Wars 0:00-0:26 (First three movies rated G): Epic, heroic, excitement, bravery, courage.
-Pirates of the Caribbean 0:00-0:50 (Rated PG-13): Suspenseful, exciting. Evokes similar feelings to Star Wars, but is a bit darker sounding.
-Harry Potter - Hedwig's Theme 0:00-1:06 (First three movies rated PG): High pitched, mysterious and magical. Whirling sounds going up and down at 0:44 gives an image of flying.
Option 2: Listen to different character themes from one movie, Lord of the Rings (Rated PG-13)
-Hobbit Theme with the Shire Theme: 0:00-1:05: Starts with the same Shire theme, but faster and more cheerful. Then hobbit melody comes in at 0:27. Overall, a happier sound, bouncing and cheerful.
Introducing the Concept of Musical Theme
"We just heard each character portrayed by a specific musical idea. This is called a musical theme. (Record "theme" and its definition.) In music, a theme is a sound or series of sounds that create a musical idea. This idea is important to the structure of the composition. It can represent a specific character, mood or idea."
"We have just heard how Prokofiev uses different themes or musical ideas to represent different characters in Peter and the Wolf. In this unit, we'll create themes like Prokofiev to represent the different characters in Seedfolks."
Relating "Theme" to Movie Soundtracks
"To help us understand how musical themes communicate important ideas about characters or stories, let's think of some popular movie themes. Has anyone seen the Star Wars movies? Let's listen to a clip of the main theme. Close your eyes." (Play movie clip from Star Wars).
"What feelings does the music evoke? (excitement, bravery, courageousness) What does the music tell you about the story and its characters? (Continue playing the clip to hear music representing the different characters in the story.) Can you think of music from other movies? What does the music tell you about the story? (Students respond.) We are going to be creating our own soundtrack to Seedfolks."
Process: Resume listening to Peter and the Wolf. Pause at the end of Track 2. The purpose of listening to the beginning is to allow students to hear the themes in the context of the larger composition. This mirrors how the story of Seedfolks will be musically illustrated by the students' composition towards the end of the unit. Feel free to listen to the rest of the composition at a later time.
A4L Music Track 2, Peter and the Wolf, by Sergei Prokofiev "The Beginning of the Story" (6 Minutes and 20 Seconds)
Listening to Themes in Track 2
"Let's listen to the first part of this composition so we can hear how these themes fit into the larger piece. Notice how the musical themes for each character bring the story alive and help us paint a picture of the storyline. For instance, listen to how the flute and oboe intertwine when the bird and duck are arguing. Hear how the cat, represented by the clarinet, creeps toward the bird." (Continue to the end of Track 2.)
Process: Listen to each character's theme, describe the sounds, and then guide students to make inferences as they identify the characters' traits using the A4L Music CD: Tracks 3 through 8. Record students' descriptions on the Music & Character Connections Chart. See the menu below, Music & Character Connections Chart for a sample and click here for a blank version to project on the document camera. Write the name of the first character, "Bird," then play the track for that character's theme. Press pause. Ask the students to describe the sounds they heard. Record descriptions on the chart.
Play the track for the same character's theme again. Press pause. Ask what students think the music tells them about the character. Repeat the process for each character. Record ideas on the chart. If descriptions for one character generate comparative descriptions for a previous character, go back and add those newly added words or phrases to its list. Timing to listen and discuss characters' themes is 10-15 minutes. Below is a video example of how the Music & Character Connections Chart is used in the classroom.
Music & Character Connections Chart
A blank version of this chart is available here. Project on the document camera or create a chart to post on the wall. Several sample responses have been filled in below:
What sounds do you hear?
What does this tell you about the character
Fast, jumpy, high, bright, light
Flying, jumping from branch to branch, quick, chirping
Smooth, low, long sounds, thin, focused
Swimming, gliding in the water
Slow, low and high sounds, smooth, mellow
Creeping, climbing, sneaky
Slow, low, loud, booming, reedy
Grumpy, grouchy, heavy
A4L Music Tracks 3-8, Peter and the Wolf, Character Themes
Listening to Each Character's Theme
"Let's listen more carefully to each character's theme. After listening to each theme, we will stop and describe the sounds we hear and what we think those sounds tell us about each character. I'll record your descriptions on the Music & Character Connections Chart."
Play "Bird Theme"
"Here is the bird's theme, played by a flute. (Play "Bird Theme," Track 3.) What were the different sounds you heard? What is bird-like about this?" (Write "Bird" and record responses, such as: "fast," "jumpy," "bright," or "high.")
"Listen again, and think about what Prokofiev was trying to say about the bird." (Play "Bird Theme," Track 3.)
"What might this music tell us about the character?" (Students may respond: "the bird is flying," "jumping from branch to branch," or "quick," and "chirpy." Record.)
Play "Duck Theme"
"Let's listen to the duck's theme, played by the oboe." (Play "Duck Theme," Track 4.)
"What were the different sounds you heard? How were the sounds different from the bird?" (Write "Duck" and record student responses, such as: "long sounds," "smooth," "low," "thin," or " it sounds like a quack.")
"Listen again, and think about what Prokofiev was trying to say about the duck." (Play "Duck Theme," Track 4.)
"What might this music tell us about the character? What in the music suggests a duck gliding on the water?" (Students may respond: "long, smooth sounds are like a duck swimming." Record.)
Play "Cat Theme"
"Listen to the cat's theme, played by the clarinet." (Play "Cat Theme," Track 5.)
"What were the different sounds you heard? How are they different from the duck and the bird?" (Write "Cat" and record student responses, such as: "low and high," or "slower.")
"Listen again, and think about what Prokofiev was trying to say about the cat." (Play "Cat Theme," Track 5.)
"What might this music tell us about the character?" (Students may respond: "creeping," "moving silently and fluidly," "mellow," "climbing," or "sneaky." Record.)
Play "Grandfather Theme"
"Let's listen to the Grandfather's theme, played by the bassoon." (Play "Grandfather Theme," Track 6.)
"How is the Grandfather's theme different, or the same, from the bird, the duck, and the cat?" (Write "Grandfather" and record student responses, such as: "slow," "lower," or " louder.")
"Listen again, and think about what Prokofiev was trying to say about the Grandfather." (Play "Grandfather Theme," Track 6.)
"What might this music tell us about the character? How do you think the Grandfather moves?" (Students may respond: "grumpy," "grouchy," " slow," or " heavy." Record.)
Play "Wolf Theme"
"Let's listen to the wolf's theme. The wolf's theme is an example of a theme played by more than one instrument. In this case, it's played by three French horns." (Play "Wolf Theme," Track 7.)
"What were the different sounds you heard? How were these sounds different from the bird, duck, cat, and Grandfather?" (Write "Wolf" and record student responses, such as: "loud," "bold," "rich," or " strong.")
"Listen again, and think about what Prokofiev was trying to say about the character." (Play "Wolf Theme," Track 7.)
"What might this music tell us about the character?" (Students may respond: "scary," "intense," or "frightening." Record.)
Play "Peter Theme"
"Let's listen to Peter's theme. Peter's theme is also played by many instruments. They are all stringed instruments: violins, violas, and double basses, which are like giant violins that you have to stand up to play." (Play "Peter Theme," Track 8.)
"What were the different sounds you heard? How were these sounds different from the bird, duck, cat, Grandfather, and wolf?" (Write "Peter" and record responses, such as: "fast," "lighthearted," "smooth," "high," "skipping.")
"Listen again, and think about what Prokofiev was trying to say about the character." (Play "Peter Theme," Track 8.)
"What might this music tell us about the character?" (Students may respond: "happy," "young," or "fun." Record.)
Close Listening to Character Themes
"We have just practiced actively listening to sounds in music and what those sounds can tell us about characters. Sometimes the music tells us how the character is moving about, other times it gives us a sense of what the character is like. We'll continue to build on these ideas as we learn more about music."
Process: Close the lesson with a "looking forward", describing the next lesson.
"In our next lesson, we'll look more closely at the words we used to describe the characters' themes in Peter and the Wolf, learn more about music, and experiment with classroom instruments and found objects."
CONGRATULATIONS ON COMPLETING LESSON 1! YOU ARE NOW READY TO MOVE ONTO LESSON 2 OF UNIT 4.
You've now reached the end of our ArtsforLearning Curriculum preview.