Darcie Pickering



Objective:  Through musical improvisation and the use of video, students will demonstrate their understanding of how music is used to advance a storyline. 


Purpose:  This lesson will serve as an introduction to program music.


Materials Needed: 

A DVD of VHS tape of Finding Nemo

A television and DVD player or VCR

A video camera

An assortment of classroom instruments. 

A DVD or VHS tape of Jaws

A recording of Debussyıs La Mer


Anticipatory Set:  As the children enter the room they will see the opening scene from Jaws playing on the television.  The sound will be turned off and Debussyıs La Mer will be playing in the background. 



  1. The teacher will ask the students to describe the scene and music that they just saw, recording the responses on the board. 
  2. The teacher will then play the same scene, this time with the original music composed for the movie. 
  3. Again, the students will describe what they saw and the teacher will record responses on the board. 
  4.  Next, the teacher will play a scene from Finding Nemo with the sound turned off (23:21-25:10). 
  5. The students will then break off into groups of 3 or 4 and have time to compose a soundtrack to the scene.  They will use the instruments in the classroom to do so.  The teacher may have to play the scene a few more times so that the groups can practice playing along with the video. 
  6. The groups will then perform their pieces with the scene playing.  While a group is performing, the teacher will focus the video camera on the television and record the scene. 
  7. After each group has been recorded, the class will watch the newly soundtracked scene from Finding Nemo.


Check for Student Understanding:  After the class has watched the scenes, the class will have a chance to ask each group about their process.  The teacher may facilitate the discussion by asking questions such as, ³why did you choose this instrument to represent what was happening on the screen?²


Closure:  Finally, the class will watch the Finding Nemo scene with the original music and make comparisons between their music and the original music.


Extensions:  This activity can be done using different scenes and different movies.  You may also make cross curriculum connections by using books that the children are reading in their classrooms.  The children may also write their own stories and then soundtrack them.  This activity may be used as an introduction to opera as well as program music.