“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato
Including your writing class!
Well on in my career as a human being, I have discovered that I love writing but this was not always the case. I can remember as a student groaning when my teacher assigned an essay and then sitting in front of a blinking curser for hours searching for just the right words. Often the problem was, I was uninspired, I didn't know what to write because I didn't really have anything super exciting to communicate. Better writing prompts may have helped. Wether your students are writing a short story, a poem or a research essay, music can help!
Here are 5 ideas for using music in a writing class to get you started. I am sure once you get going, you will think of many, many more. Let me know how you use music in your writing classes in the comments.
1. Fill in the details of a story
The lyrics to some of the songs I like to listen to suggest stories. They hint at things that happened before or might happen in the future. They have characters, a conflict and tension.
Songs are a great way to get students' imaginations going. Ask them to listen to several songs and choose one they would like to develop further. Have them write who the characters in the story are as well as any descriptions of those characters they find in the song. Ask them to write what the conflict is in the song and what the character(s) feelings are. Then ask them to expand the story. They should choose how they want to tell the story, who will the narrator be? They should use a combination of prose and dialogue in the story and they should use vocabulary and words from the song if they can.
Here is a short list of songs that tell stories. It is by no means exhaustive, please tell me what your favorite story songs are in the comments!
2. Write about Experiences and Emotions using Classical Music
One of the amazing things about music is that it can touch us and make us feel without a single word. It communicates with us on an emotional level. Music is used to calm us while we wait for far too long on hold, it is used to make us want to buy more in our favorite shops and it is used to make us jump out of our seats in movie theaters. Why not use some great emotional classical music to inspire students to write about their experiences and feelings.
Have them listen to several works and choose one that makes them think about an experience they had in their life. Brainstorm words that describe feelings for each piece of music. Then have students write an autobiographical piece using the music as inspiration.
Here is some great music that evokes feelings
3. Use Music as a Starting Point for Writing a Research Paper
Songs aren't all about love, sometimes they are about weighty historical issues! Give students a list of songs that refer to historical or cultural events. Ask them to find out more information about what the singer is referring to and write an essay explaining how the song either reflected or influenced what was happening at the time.
4. Use Songs to Write Poetry
Let's face it, songs are in fact poetry. So how about letting poetry beget poetry! Listen to several songs and pick out one or two words from each song that you particularly like. Use them as titles for a series of short poems like Haikus or use all of them in one longer poem.
5. Write a Letter to an Artist
Listen to at least 5 songs by a single artist. Think about what you can infer about him/her. What seems to be important in their lives? What mood are they usually in? Are they an optimist or a pessimist? Now, imagine you have been their friend since childhood, you just listened to their latest song and you are writing to tell them what you think and to catch up on life with them.
OK, there you have it, 5 ideas for different kinds of writing based on music. Now get out there and start making your writing classes noisy!
If you like these ideas, there are lots more, click on one of these!
Hi, I'm Kia.
Teaching is my passion, I have been teaching for over 20 years in 4 different continents. One of the things I have learned over the years is that I am never done learning about teaching. Both teaching and learning should be fun and inspiring.
Are you looking for more posts? Click on one of the categories below to find it.