Music for Creative Storytelling

Music for Creative Storytelling

Can you think of a better way of bringing a story to life for our younger students than using music? 

Interactive musical activities interspersed throughout storytelling can sometimes be the key to igniting inspiration and imagination in our youngest of learners. 

In this blog, I will offer a couple of examples of texts which can be further enhanced through musical activities. 

We're Going on a Lion Hunt: David Axtell

This is a take on the familiar ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen. It contains lots of repetition – perfect for our youngest learners to repeat, and plenty of opportunities to listen, explore instruments and sing.

  • The ‘swish swash’ of long grass: Use egg shakers to create a swish swash motion to the pulse as you listen to music. We used the Introduction and Royal March of the Lion: Carnival of the Animals: Saint-Saëns to do this, shaking the eggs at the beginning, ‘swish-swashing’ to the pulse, and shaking them up and down during the glissandos in the music.
  • We spotted the giraffe in the long grass in the illustrations, so we sung our favourite song about giraffes and some of their friends: Giraffe Song
  • We used a triangle to ‘splish splash’ through the water, the children stepping and splashing each time they heard a sound. When I shouted ‘flamingo!’ (which they had spotted in the illustration) they had to balance on one leg.
  • We listened to Happy Hippo from Dan Brown’s ‘Wild Symphony’ and did some stomping and squelching like hippos to the music. We then accompanied our squelching with some guiro sounds, which the children decided sounded like squelching mud.
  • When we arrived at the cave, we used the claves to make quiet tiptoe sounds until we reached the lion. At this point, we listened to the sound effect of a lion roaring. Then, using sensory scarves, we danced along to I Just Can't Wait to be King from Disney’s The Lion King.
  • Finally, they used their scarves to make music beds, and lay down as they listened to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ as a lullaby.

In this lesson, children explored timbre, pitch, pulse and dynamics through untuned percussion, expressive movement, singing and listening.

And Tango Makes Three: Justin Richardson

This is a fantastic book for our younger learners to explore LGBTQIA+ month. This text offers lots of opportunity for instrumental work, singing and moving.

  • We played musical statues during a ‘walk around Central Park’ to find the zoo. We used the music Promenade: Gershwin to do this.
  •  We listened to a variety of different animal sound effects to guess the animals that were in Central Park Zoo. Using animal pictures, we then clapped and chanted the syllables of each animal name to create four beat rhythms.
  • We discovered the Penguin House by singing the Penguin Song from Singing Sherlock: Book 1 
  • When discussing the mummy penguins laying eggs, we used egg shakers. We practised keeping them warm in our hands, and then we tapped them on different body parts to the pulse, using famous LGBTQIA+ musician, Elton John’s Are You Ready For Love?
  • We used vocal play to practise the ‘peep peep’ and ‘squawk squawk’ and ‘CRACK!’ sound effects of Roy and Silo’s egg hatching.
  • We used the wonderful song, What Makes a Family by Al Start at GoKidMusic to explore the idea of different families at the end.
  • Finally, we did some sensory scarf dancing to All You Need Is Love by the Beatles to finish.

This lesson allowed children to explore the theme of LGBTQIA+ through creative musical play: listening, vocal play, pulse work on untuned percussion, expressive movement and singing.

Other good examples and ideas for Musical Storytelling include:

LPO Online: Elephants in the Custard

BBC Philharmonic: The Musical Story of the Gingerbread Man

Please do check out this month’s lesson from A Star Classroom based around the story of Jack and the Beanstalk for more inspiration!