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Telling a Story with Music

Aim: How can we use pitch and other musical elements to tell a story?
Summary: Students use pitch to explore the characters in a story.
Standards: US 1, 8; NYC 1, 2, 3
Modality: responding, performing
Materials: white board, markers, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” story, Orff instruments
Time Required: 20 minutes

Instructions

  1. Discuss family with students.
    Who are the members of your family? How are you alike? How are you different?
  2. Read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a story about another family.
    How are the three bears alike? How are they different?
  3. Discuss the three members of the bear family and associate low, medium, and high pitches to represent the three characters. Write the choices on the board.
    • Have students demonstrate the voice of each bear.
    • Play three different pitches (low, medium, and high) on a pitched instrument and have students identify which pitch goes with each character.
    • Play a pattern of the character pitches and have students identify when the pitch stays the same, and when it is different.
  4. Read the story again. Have students participate in telling the story by speaking specific phrases with low, medium, or high pitches or by playing an associated pitched instrument with each character’s phrase. (Example: Papa Bear’s “Somebody has been lying in my bed,” spoken in a low voice)

Going Deeper

Take another story in your classroom and create a musical narrative using low, medium, and high pitches to represent the characters. Explore adding other musical elements to tell the story by associating different instruments, dynamics, rhythms, and tempos with each character.

Video

Kindergarten Activity Exemplar: Pitch

This video is an exemplar of an activity from Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Toolbox entitled "Telling a Story with Music." Students use pitch to explore the characters in a story.

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