19 October 2009Add to My Folder
Use a poem and imaginative illustration to stimulate creative music making
The Interactive resource, ‘One Day’ (an audio version of the Poster) features a reading of the poem by Ann Bryant set to a percussion backing. Enjoy the delicate voiceover and equally atmospheric instrumental music to stimulate ideas in the classroom.
You can also download the wonderfully illustrated Poster,, ‘One Day’.
‘One Day’ is featured in Pictures, Poems & Percussion 2 by Ann Bryant (Out of the Ark Music, PB + CD £24.95)
Poetry is music. This is the concept behind Pictures, Poems & Percussion 2 by Ann Bryant (Out of the Ark Music, PB + CD £24.95) a resource that demonstrates how on its own, poetry can convey rhythm, tempo, timbre and dynamics – but when combined with pictures and percussion, can help to develop musical skills far beyond the rhythm of words. As well as inspiring music, the poems may also encourage actions, movement and dance, too.
In this article, Ann suggests activities to use with one of the poems from Pictures, Poems & Percussion 2, ‘One Day’ – a beautiful, atmospheric poem about the future and the possibility of parallel worlds. The words and enchanting picture for ‘One Day’ are available on the Poster, ‘One Day’. All readers can also access the Poster online along with the Interactive resource, ‘One Day’ that features a reading of the poem to music.
1. Listening out
Developing sensitivity to what is going on around us can hugely develop musical skills. As an introductory activity, ask the children the day before you plan to run the following activities, to make a list of every sound they hear on their journey to school on a particular morning. Look at the results together. Try sorting the sounds into groups, for example: natural sounds (birdsong, raindrops) and manmade sounds (car engines, mobile phones). What sound is heard the most?
Next, share the poem, ‘One Day’ (available on the Poster and Interactive resource, ‘One Day’) with your class. Both of the children in the picture are thinking the same thoughts – wondering about the future. Either of them could be saying any line of the poem.
Divide the class into groups of three. First, listen to the poem with the percussion backing track (available as part of the Interactive resource) to hear how there are only three different sounds working together in this musical piece – two different instrumental sounds (cymbal and güiro in this case) and a voice. Once the groups have listened to the audio version a few times, and read the poem aloud, ask them to spend time deciding which two other instruments they would use to create their own backing track. Ask: When and how would they be played? Try not to be descriptive in any way about the style of music you think the children should aim towards. Some groups might approach the task by latching onto the rhythm of the words, whereas others might create a wash of continuous sound throughout.
This activity is a chance for the children to explore different ways of using just two instrumental sounds, combined with a voice, in a piece of music. When everyone has had a chance to work something out, listen to the different groups’ ideas.
2. Words and pictures
How do the children interpret the poem? The picture, combined with the words of this poem, should generate plenty of discussion about the possibility of the existence of a parallel universe. Technology has developed so much, especially recently. Might we discover life on other planets, through means other than space travel? What about through the power of the mind? Discuss these ideas with your class.
On a simpler level, the poem and picture explore the idea that you never know when someone else is thinking the same thoughts as you. Use this idea as a starting point for poetry based on other circumstances where two people might be having the same thoughts – watching a show; playing in a football match; looking out of a window at the same view; listening to a piece of music, and so on.
3. Mirror, mirror
Look at the construction of the first and third stanzas in the poem, ‘One Day’ and notice how the sentiments are almost mirrored. Divide the children into pairs. Play the audio version of the poem again to the class and highlight the stanzas. Ask them to think about the rhythm and length of the piece, too. Invite the children to think of simple actions that complement the poem. Then, working in pairs, they should take it in turns to mirror each other’s actions. This activity will be a multi-sensory experience for watchers and participants.
Play the audio of the poem for a second time to give the children an idea of the time frame they have to work with to mirror actions. Ask the children to face their partner. (To establish the distance apart, when both partners stretch out their arms in front of them, finger tips should touch.) One partner leads, deciding on a simple action/movement then performs it slowly and smoothly. They can blend this movement into another and then another. The other partner emulates all the actions as though looking in a mirror. They will need to concentrate hard, trying to keep as close to the leader’s timing as possible so the movements of the two partners are practically simultaneous. Those watching should get the impression that the actions have been pre-decided and choreographed.
Remembering that all actions must be slow and smooth, and that left for the leader will be right for the follower, here is an example of some possible moves:
- From a standing position with feet together, raise the left arm out to the side and stretch it right up.
- Raise the other arm in the same way.
- Turn a full circle to the left in this position.
- Lower both arms.
- Bend the right knee until you are kneeling on it.
- Stretch the left leg out to the side.
- Bring the left leg back in so you are fully kneeling with bottom on heels.
- Curl over (upper body and head).
- Kneel up.
- Lower both arms to your sides.
- Rotate the shoulders.
- Circle the head.
- Bring both arms forwards so the finger tips touch your partner’s.
There are many other actions/movements that could be used in this work. Encourage the children to experiment with different movements. Invite them to take it in turns to perform their routine in front of the class. You could ask more than one pair to perform at the same time.