Here’s a lesson plan that I emailed in to a primary school where I was due to teach class music, before I was felled by the chest infection that just about wrote off the first half of this term. It is based on a lesson I have taught to year 3/4 classes in the past.
Bear in mind that it has been designed to be
- easy to deliver by more and less confident class teachers (hence the various options),
- easy to find the resources
- easy for me to plan, type and send in, considering I was tucked up in bed at the time!
STORY TELLING WITHOUT WORDS -The tale of Jeremy Fisher, by Beatrix Potter
- Selection of percussion instruments, any, from cupboard by front door. Enough for everyone and to spare. Cymbals and soft sticks would be good to have.
- Pencil/paper or whiteboard/pens for storyboarding and making notes if doing group work version
- YouTube Clip form the ballet Tales of Beatrix Potter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7Rhqen1If8 This clip lasts 6;30
Children will watch a ballet version of The Tale of Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter. (Listening with attention to detail and aural recall)
They will have the opportunity to discuss the story, the music, the dancing, mood, instruments, (using expressive vocabulary) Sometimes it is better to divide children into threes to discuss it between themselves, and then ask each group for a contribution. It doesn’t matter if several groups give the same idea)
The children identify the main musical sections and create a very simple storyboard (Graphic notation)
The children choose instruments according to sound (timbre) for each section and compose new music (Aural recall, composition, choose and arrange sounds to create a pre-determined effect)
Jeremy Fisher is a frog. He is sitting peacefully, reading a paper, when it starts to rain. He gets all excited because that means he can go fishing. He dances about (doing lots of froggy jumping), dashes into his house to get his fishing gear, and then comes out and leaps about some more. He jumps across the lily pads to reach his lily-pad raft, and then poles across the lake to settle down to a bit of fishing. (4 mins).
An ominous change to the music marks the arrival of a large (frog-eating?) fish. Jeremy Fisher catches the fish on his line – disaster – the fish is too strong for him and pulls him into the lake! Oh no, what will happen? He has disappeared and all we see are bubbles. (4:50)
The music changes and sounds more cheerful (5:58) and then Jeremy Fisher’s head appears. He crawls slowly out of the water, looking very tattered. After a moment, he checks to make sure he is all in one piece – yes, he is unhurt by the terrible experience and starts doing froggy leaps again.
DISCUSSION; talk about the story, how the froggy dancer moves, how the music adds to the mood of the story. If you knew the story but could only hear the music, not see the pictures, would you be able to know what was happening by the sound?
Watch the story again, maybe pausing it to note the different sections;
- fast and happy music,
- calm quiet fishing music
- dangerous music
- happy music again
WHOLE CLASS VERSION OF LESSON
Divide instruments by sound into “happy”,” calm”, “dangerous” and form three groups; follow story outline with instruments (you could put ballet on again with sound off, or follow written order on whiteboard) Choose a conductor to direct which group should play when.
GROUP WORK VERSION OF LESSON
- Children make their own storyboards of the different types of music
- Divide instruments by sound into “happy”,” calm”, “dangerous”.
- Divide children into groups of about 6. Give them a selection of instruments from each of the “happy/calm/dangerous” groups. Get them to use/combine their storyboards to compose new music for the story.
- If time, groups share their compositions. They could be recorded and played back, saved to computer so that the children can listen to them again. (You need about 2 mins per group for this)
VERSION OF LESSON FOR TEACHERS WHO ARE NOT KEEN TO USE INSTRUMENTS
Working individually or in groups, children create simple cartoon of story. Watch video again, maybe with sound but not picture. Children hold up the appropriate picture for the music.
- Draw pictures/create models of frogs with concertina folded legs, or make origami frogs
- Research Amazonian rain frogs
- Make lake/lily pad/frog scene from coloured paper
- Find out about Beatrix Potter, read the books, watch more scenes from the ballet
- Create dance