Ask students to identify their favorite Halloween story. Ask them to pick one instrument and create one motion that would capture a critical moment in that story. Ask several students to tell the class their instrument and to perform their motion; students in the class must guess what the story is from the chosen clues.
Explain that Program Music is a genre of music that tells a story using the elements of music, such as tempo, dynamics, and instrument choice. Play “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and ask students to describe how the composer (Grieg) used the elements of music to set the mood of the piece.
Explain that this piece of music is part of a larger story called “Peer Gynt” about a boy named Peer (a variation of Peter) found himself in a large castle trapped by a Mountain King and his trolls.
Split the class into 3 groups. Play the beginning of the song again and ask each person in the first group to contribute a line to the story that they think is happening. For example, student 1 may say “One day, Peer Gynt was walking and” and then you stop that student and ask the next student in the group to continue. Do this with all 3 groups for the Beginning, Middle and End of the song until you have a complete story.
Closing: Ask the student groups to perform their section of the story to the music by acting out their script while the music is playing. Remember that there are no words in Program Music, so they cannot make any sounds!
Play the instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and ask students to identify the elements of music used to create a context for this story.
Once identified, have students create a story to accompany the song and create a dance sequence that demonstrates their class story through the elements of music.