Moods and Music

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By Jane Bowerspecialist teacher in art, drama and dance

Transform your school hall into a spooky castle, a dragon’s cave or a storm-tossed pirate ship – Jane Bower shares her favourite classical tunes for setting the perfect scene

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The right music can make such a difference to how we feel and respond to something. Think of the stirring Rachmaninov theme from the film Brief Encounter, or that unforgettable sinister music from Jaws. Music is a quick and powerful way of making an emotional connection with the audience. The movies have been doing it for years – and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing the same in our own drama sessions!

Why and when should I use music?

  1. Adding to the dramatic atmosphere. Music is often the art form that evokes a mood most quickly, and can heighten an atmosphere already established by the drama. It can be used to intensify or underline a particular part of a drama lesson.
  2. Aiding children’s imagination. Drama lessons often require children to visualise something that is not there. Music can enhance their visual imagination – for example, a piece evoking the sea if they are role-playing being on board a boat or a ship.
  3. Providing variety. Music can offer a break in the pattern of a drama lesson or drama performance. An alternative to constant speech, it can serve to keep the children’s minds stimulated and interested.
  4. Changing the mood. Switching from a hot place to a freezing place, a spooky forest to a busy market, a silent fairground to one that is whirling and alive – music can tell the children where they are in the drama and what is happening without the need for verbal explanation.
  5. Completing the drama. Often a drama lesson ends with an achievement: the solving of a problem posed at the start. A piece of music can enhance the sense of accomplishing a task – the village is saved / the voyage is a success / the treasure is found!
  6. Appreciating music as a medium. Using music in drama lessons can lead children to an appreciation of how a composer has tried to evoke a certain story, atmosphere or place, and understanding how different instruments or melodies can affect emotions.
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