Following our inquiry into environmental sounds (inspired by Paul Showers’ The Listening Walk), we explored how that might translate into music. Sitting together as a class, a few students shared some of the sounds they had drawn/written in their journals, and we thought about how we could recreate those sounds with our classroom instruments, our voices, and/or our bodies.
In small groups, students experimented with their own sounds, collaborating to find the best way to represent them musically. Some sounds were very straightforward, like the jackhammer across the street, or the birds chirping in the trees. For others they really struggled to agree, like for the sound of the flag flapping in the wind.
In true PYP fashion, we agreed to disagree on some things, and focused on the great thinking behind the ideas. We wrote down some of our favorite sounds for the next lesson: Following a Score
If you would like to try out the inquiry in your own classroom, you can download all the lesson plans and templates. You may also want to see our follow-up inquiry into Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (coming soon).
4 thoughts on “The Listening Walk, Part II: Making Sounds into Music”
This is great! We have some construction across the street, so this could be interesting if it’s still going in September. I love the idea of using the local environment for inspiration! Did the kids come up with enough different ideas or did they all have the same couple things?
The kids came up with really creative ideas! There was a bit of overlap, but most groups wanted to use their most unique ideas when it came down to their musical performance, so there was a really great variety!
When you say “represent them musically” what exactly do you mean? Are you notating the sounds or just whistling to represent a bird?
The children are not notating the sounds using any kind of standard notation. They are trying to recreate the sounds, first by (for example) whistling to make the bird sound, and then moving that idea onto the instruments. Some groups chose to use a recorder or ocarina to represent the bird, one group tapped lightly on a drum to represent a bird hopping along a branch, and one group really wanted to stick with just whistling–the body is an instrument, after all–so they worked to refine their whistling sound.