Developing the Circus Scene – Preparation for Music Composition

The second grade students have been creating small wooden doll circus characters  during music classes with clothes and props made from felt and pipe cleaners to help add details to the circus stories and scenes that they have written in homeroom.  They then create an imaginary world inside of small circus tents or built from objects outside the tents to play with their circus partners to act out the scene complete with a beginning, middle and end. They were also required to add details that would introduce the characters, build the action in their act to have the most amazing things happen last to reach a climax, emphasizing what the characters might be feeling as they are performing their amazing feats.

Music of the circus played in the background to help expose them to the different ways that music is written and the mood that it creates.  Classical music as well as calliope music was played during the process. The calliope is an instrument originally used for the circus, because it is essentially a one stop shop with many instruments together on one machine. Students were introduced to a ballet written by Erik Satie called Parade (modern classical piece that was a collaboration between himself, Pablo Picasso (set and costume design), and Jean Cocteau (poet and writer)).  The ballet has an act with two acrobats, which is reflected in the music.

The students were given stopwatches after they developed their scenes to practice keeping the beginning, middle and end to three minutes.  These scenes will be recorded so that the students will be able to use the three minute action packed story line as a guideline to compose music for their circus.  This type of play with their circus partners assists them to bond more closely with each other while planting the seeds to help them think through what the music should sound like according to the action of their eventual Sandy’s Circus wire character they will create.

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