In my last post, I wrote about how visualization using music can help students build their visualization in reading.  In this post, I want to explore the possibilities of using musical visualization to prompt good writing.

Being able to allow students to imagine their story, repeat it in their minds, and “walk around” their visualization to clarify details is a step worth taking in a prewriting stage of composing a story on paper.  How many times have we asked students to add details to their stories or descriptions of what they are trying to convey?  Music can be a wonderful vehicle to get those juices flowing.

A couple of weeks ago, my students and I were listening to Chopin’s Prelude Op. 28 No.7 A Major: a short, beautiful piece for which students have a variety of interpretations.  After listening a couple of times to the piece, I ask students to start visualizing the story in their  minds.  Just prompting them with this one suggestion is all they need to get a story going in their mind.  (Some don’t even realize they’ve been doing it until I point it out to them.)  Once they have started to talk about their stories, we discuss character, setting, sequence of events, conflict and resolution.

Each time we listen to the piece, I encourage the students to close their eyes or stare at a spot in the room so that they can focus on the visualization in their minds:  “Walk around the story in your head.  Look around.  Notice the details.  Where are you?  What is going on?  Who is there?  What are they doing?  How are they acting?”

This particular piece of music is perfect for this type of activity because you can play it many times in one sitting with your students since it is only 53 second long!

Sensory Imagery – With this type of visualization, it is the perfect opportunity to talk about the senses.  When students “throw themselves into the story” they are invited to use their senses to explore what is in their minds.  (This works well with artwork too!  Pick a piece of art and ask students to “throw themselves into the painting” and look around.)  After talking about their experiences, students are ready to put into words great descriptions on paper.

Writing Stories – Of course, a natural extension of asking students to come up with a story using music visualization is to have them write it out.  Usually I would ask students to plan their B, M and E (beginning, middle and end) with a graphic organizer.  With my class this year, however, I did something a little different.  I had students create stories in a poetic way using a Story Pyramid that was shared by @evab2001.   Here are examples of what my fourth graders came up with.  (Read it to yourself while playing the piece for the full effect. 😉 )

Pierre:

Sad, heartbroken

Rainy city; Nighttime

His girlfriend dumped him.

He got soaked by rain.

He stepped in a huge puddle.

He walked into his house very wet.

He will get an awesome, new girlfriend tomorrow.

Dog:

Friendly, cute

Deep, dark forrest

He is very lost.

He needs to find shelter.

He needs to live by himself.

He is finding an exit to home!

He found his loving owner all by himself.

Music inspires so many things!  This month, I hope it inspires you to bring new depth to your literacy programs! 🙂

~EMP

Celebrate Music and Literacy by taking advantage of Elizabeth’s book Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book for integrating musical listening experiences into the classroom.  The book is on sale this month only (March 2011) at 20% off!

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