Fifth grade dove right into the “why” behind transforming sound into pictures and pictures into sound, and they used their existing musical background knowledge (and CAPE experience from last year) to begin by adding musical terms to sounds they were brainstorming. We then moved into composing using graphic notation.
Brainstorming the dynamics of rainforest sounds and creating a simple musical map composition on the second visit.
Students used post-its to create small sound graphics, and then used those sound graphics to create small compositions. The concept of using symbols to represent sound seemed to be a new concept for many students.
We also used an organizer to help generate sounds and symbols to then later put into a composition.
Finally, students tried to create an ABA composition to answer this inquiry question: “How can we transform a picture into a musical composition featuring loud and soft sounds and short and long sounds?” At the same time, students were working in the science classroom on representing their planets with music, using the same concepts.
Students took their graphic score and composition knowledge into the science classroom to explore the solar system through music, and ultimately to create their own compositions, linking music and science concepts.
First, we experimented with direct vs indirect sun rays/sound waves. Students had to create and play their own short rhythmic compositions to demonstrate a season, showing the heat and direct/indirect rays with the dynamic of their instrument, and whether we in Chicago would therefore be hot or cold.
Then we explored the orbits of the planets of our solar system and the length of their years by rotating the sun in different time signatures. This video shows students representing different planets. The beat is the sun, and you can see the students closest to the sun representing Mercury, and then the students out from there representing Venus, etc, all the way out to Neptune. Mercury moved in 2/4 time (stepping forward every two meets) while Neptune was in 9/4 time (only stepping every 9 beats). Near the end of the video the students and Ms. Spicer discuss the relationship.
Finally, students completed and performed a musical “commercial” for their planet. They finished work on and performed their compositions, along with narration, in the music classroom.
By the end of the residency the students appeared to be accustomed to the concept of using pictures to represent sound and sounds being represented by pictures. Their next project will build on using these skills to bring a story to life. The students then created a sound track and used drama tableaus to reenact the story of Wiley and the Hairy Man. The students were divided into learning groups with each group being assigned a short paragraph from the story. The groups decided on the tableaus and sounds to emphasize during the narration of the story. They performed their final project for the second grade classroom. Knowing that they would be having a final performance for a younger class really helped to motivate the students to stay on task.
Students started by learning how to create expressive tableaus with their bodies based on music they were hearing. In these pictures, they were responding to “Pavane for a Dead Princess” by Maurice Ravel.
Students had to decide what parts of the story to emphasize with tableaus and what parts to tell with music, and then they had to brainstorm sounds for those parts. Finally, they had to transform the real-world sounds into musical sounds that could be played on instruments or created with their bodies.
Finally, the fifth grade went to a second grade classroom for their performance!