Playground Symphony



Music Rationale:  Students use music to create a common experience.

  EALR Connection:

The Arts:  

The student interprets by developing a personal interpretation of the work

The student rehearses, adjusts, and refines through evaluation and problem solving


The student uses listening and observation skills to gain understanding.

The student uses communication strategies and skills to work effectively with others.


The student writes in a variety of forms for different audiences and purposes.


Write individual poetry based on the “symphony”

Use the sound of the playground to write a group “symphony”.


Personal Journals

Instruments, either found or ready made


Note:  Students had previous experience in creating sound patterns and assigning symbols to sounds, when, in another activity, we created a pattern of sound with objects just in and around our desks, then assigning symbols to those sounds to create a kind of musical score. This pervious experience made the following activities much easier.


DAY 1: 

Before lunch, ask students to take note of the different sounds they hear while at recess and be prepared to write about them in their journals.

After lunch (or whenever the assignment is given), ask students to write about those sounds.  This is the only direction given.  Students asked if they could draw a picture to go with the descriptions, which easily led to the next step.

Students were asked to create symbols to go with the sounds their heard.  In this case of someone hearing an airplane, the needed to assign a symbol that was easier and quicker to draw than an airplane.

Students were then asked to select sounds from their journals they wanted to turn into a one minute presentation (we called it a symphony).  They could use anything around them to help reproduce those sounds (the found sound instrument).  I did not introduce the ready made instruments until they had been working a while so they would be forced to think more about the sound than the novelty and play factor of the instrument. 

Students then presented their compositions to the class. In doing presentations, they soon discovered that to make two or more sounds at once, they needed to use more than one part of the body. For instance, not all sounds could be reproduced with only hands, or only the feet, etc.  They needed to involve all parts if they wanted more than one sound at once.  This was quite a feat of coordination which called on some kinesthetic intelligence.


DAY 2:

Students were then placed in groups of four and asked to combine their sounds into a group symphony.  Here is where the symbols they assigned to their sounds came in handy.  Each student contributed sounds to the group using the symbols they had pre-selected, creating a sound score to then be presented to the class. I told them they could tell a story, write a collection of sounds, whatever they wanted as a group.  They needed to draw their symphony as it was to be played. I encouraged to overlap sounds, and therefore overlap symbols, to make two sounds at once.  I wanted them to avoid just a linear progression of sounds but to experiment with rhythm, tempo, etc. We quickly reviewed how notes played at the same time appear in a score. 

Students performed their symphonies to the class.



Poetry:  Groups used the title of their symphonies to create an acrostic poem.  They were asked to do more than assign a sound to the acrostic, but to try to relate the flow of their score to the letters in the title, telling a story or extending the sounds with further description.  The poetry was displayed along with the sound score, i.e.

Roaring out to play

Excited to be released at last

Can I play basketball with you?

Everyone is invited

Slam dunk

Slam dunk

Sound Story:  Groups or individuals write a brief radio type play to accompany their sound score. I used a recent short piece from NPR radio that I downloaded and played for the children right in class.  This NPR series is called Sound Expeditions.




Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  music will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.