Music & Literacy: Poetry

cross-curricular thumbnails

Age Range: Elementary

Learning Objective: Students will connect to poetry while listening to some poetry-inspired pieces of music.

ENGAGE students

DISCUSS. Invite students to think about some different connections between music and poetry. Here are a few examples of ways the two art forms are connected:

  • Poetry is sometimes used as text in songs.

  • Poetry sometimes rhymes, just like song lyrics sometimes rhyme.

  • Both poetry and music can create strong images in your imagination.

  • Writing music and writing poetry are both ways to express your feelings and emotions.

EXPLORE sounds

LISTEN. Have students listen to some music connected to poetry, starting with "The Poet Speaks", from Kinderszenen, by Robert Schumann. Point out to students, “The title says that the poet speaks, but there are no words. What do you think the poet is saying?”

LISTEN. Next, have students listen to Haiku 2 by Andy Akiho. Explain, “A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem that follows a certain pattern. Haikus often conjure up images in the reader's imagination. What images pop into your mind when you listen to Andy Akiho's piece?”

LISTEN. Explain, “Poetry isn't always about flowers and pretty images. The poet Carl Sandberg wrote a poem called "Rat Riddles" and the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger set it to music.”

LISTEN. Explain, “At the very end of his Symphony No. 9, Ludwig van Beethoven decided to add a choir singing a version of the famous ‘Ode to Joy’ poem by the poet Friedrich Schiller. Here is part of the symphony with the poem in it.”

EXTEND learning

Choose one or more of the following activities to extend learning.

LEARN. Read more about haikus here.

WRITE. Have students try to write their own poem about a rat!

CREATE. Guide students through composing their own poetry-inspired music. First, have students write a poem. Then, invite them to try singing it! If instruments are available, students could try creating an instrumental version of their poems, or of a favorite poem written by someone else.

Related Lesson Plans

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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