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The past week in London was amazing, and I’m excited to share a few pictures from the trip with you, as well as a few lesson ideas. I’d been brainstorming on how to fit the two together, and as fate would have it, I came up with an idea this morning at 5:00 a.m. I guess my internal clock is still on London time.

This week’s lesson idea is all about creating. Each picture below features an object with a long history and plenty of potential for a class discussion. After showing student’s a picture, discuss its story, such as its age, size, and purpose. Then, discuss how that object might influence musical creations.

For example, the historic London Bridge inspired a children’s nursery rhyme, which developed into a circle game and song which children still sing today.

In a similar vein, St. Paul’s Cathedral inspired the song Feed the Birds from the movie Mary Poppins.
Following a class discussion on a specific photograph, start with a whole class project, in which all students work together to create new lyrics to a familiar song using a photograph as the inspiration for their lyrics. Then, sing the song together as a class. Once they’ve completed this project as a group, they’ll feel more comfortable trying it out on their own.
It’s important to give them context for their lyrics by thoroughly discussing the story behind the photograph. Take into account the interests of your students during this step. For example, they might not care that Big Ben’s clock and dials were designed by Augustus Pugin, but they would probably love to know that the hour hand of Big Ben’s clock is nine feet long. I bet they would also love to stand next to an object of that length, to compare it to their own height.

Older students will require a different tact, and one that can tie into what they’re learning in other classes, such as history. In the case of St. Paul’s Cathedral, you might discuss how it survived The Blitz in World War II.

The Tower of London would be great for a class discussion on castles and their purpose in ages past. Just do your best to steer clear of the many stories surrounding Tower Hill (of which our Beefeater was more than happy to share during our tour).

Of course the photographs don’t need to be historical in nature. Any photograph that contains a vibrant story or evokes a specific mood would be perfect. Once students have had a chance to use a photograph as their inspiration for music-making, they’ll better understand the connection between music and the visual arts.
If you’d like to hear more about my trip to London, be sure to sign up for my newsletter, where I’ll be sharing my experiences in more detail. My first newsletter was sent out on July 20th, so if you signed up before that date and still haven’t received it, be sure to double-check your Spam folder. I noticed that many readers signed up after the first newsletter was already sent, so the next newsletter will be coming out soon!

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Also, be sure to check back in next week, when I’ll be sharing more lesson ideas and a new video!