Webster Students Perform in Original Musicals
Published on 8/23/16
District News Academics Webster
Second grade students in Cori Patterson’s music class had a special treat last year, thanks to a grant their teacher received through the SCSD Educational Foundation.
In the 14-15 school year, Ms. Patterson was awarded a grant to work with fifth graders on a project involving folk music and dance. While attending a summer course at the Eastman School of Music, she observed a student musical project in action—where students created their own musical performance based off of a children’s book—and thought it would be perfect for her younger students.
“You can tie in so many parts of the curriculum in this one component,” Ms. Patterson explained. “Students meet four core standards—they create, perform, respond and make connections to their own lives. Plus, it lets the kids be so creative. They were so excited to work on their own musical—you can see them sparkle when they come into class!”
Over the course of the school year, students used their reading comprehension, writing and music skills to turn an existing children’s book into a musical, which they performed for classmates and parents.
Students took their projects in varied directions. Musicals were based off of books “Frederick” by Leo Lionni, “Tikki Tikki Tembo” by Arlene Mosel, “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni and “The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton.
“It was easier to make music than I thought,” then-second grader Baraka Winters said of his class’ rendition of ‘The Little House.’ “I thought we’d have to use all the notes in music, but we just used the second grade ones. The noisy part is my favorite, where I get to play the horn. I like to dance and make noise so this is really fun!”
To begin, Ms. Patterson first read each class a variety of children’s books, giving students the opportunity to act out the storylines as they went along. Then, each class chose its favorite book to re-write in their own words. These student-generated stories were used to develop characters, costumes, songs and sound effects. By the end of the school year, students performed their original musicals.
“In second grade, the students are still really open and really creative,” Ms. Patterson added. “The children’s books still come to life for them, because they have so much play and so much imagination. With this project, I never know where it’s going to lead—the kids really drive it and take it where they want it to go.”
Thank you to Ms. Patterson and the SCSD Educational Foundation for bringing music to life for these students. This is one of 19 projects funded in 14 schools last year, totaling $50,000. The SCSD Educational Foundation has funded more than $750,000 in SCSD projects since 2003.