Visit Your Local Station PBS Home
PBS Home Search Programs A to Z TV Schedules Shop PBS Station Finder
Continental Harmony
Continental Harmony
Sound Lounge
Teachers Guide
Online Toolkit
Film and More


Plan: Music & Mood: Can what we hear change what we see?

Subject: Music, Language Arts, Visual Arts, Technology

Grade level: 4-8

Estimated Time of Completion: four to five fifty minute class periods

I. Summary

Students will learn that music is able to manipulate mood, emotion, and perception. That the elements of music are a reflection of the human condition, and thus as the elements change, so do our emotional responses. Students will use the Sound Lounge activity a Little Mood Music as a vehicle to gain insight into the mood altering abilities of music. This lesson will culminate in the creation of a short story inspired by the student’s own research into the visual and aural connections.

II. Objectives

  • Students will improve their perceptive skills through Sound Lounge activities, and subsequent discussion.
  • Students will listen to, analyze, and describe music.
  • Students will evaluate music and music performance.
  • Students will understand relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
  • Students will draw or paint an artistic representation of their composition.
  • Students will use the Internet for further study and exploration.

III. Materials Needed

  • Student’s favorite magazine
  • Radio at home for listening
  • Scissors
  • Art supplies for painting, drawing, or coloring

IV. Procedure

  1. Introduce the lesson by having students discuss the various questions below that correspond with the a Little Mood Music Sound Lounge:
    • For each of the music choices 1, 2, and 3, how does each of the elements of music (Melody, rhythm, tempo, identified in the Composer’s Brain) contribute to the mood?
    • Describe the instruments used for each choice and the mood that is portrayed in the music. Do certain instruments associate with some moods and feelings more than others?
    • Is there a parallel with the energy of our body and certain elements of music? For instance, do pulse, respiration, blood pressure, body temperature, anxiety level etc. and the change of these physical indicators mirror one or more elements of music and its variation?
    • Would our perception of speed and tempo change if our heart rate were faster or slower than normal?
  1. Students will create a short story inspired by their favorite magazine pictures and songs from the radio. This activity will be very similar to the Little Mood Music Sound Lounge, with the pictures taking the place of the video clip, and the songs from the radio taking the place of the web page music examples.
  2. Students will go to their favorite magazine, cut out three pictures as themes for their story line. They will then pick three songs from the radio that are very different from each other in style. It may be best for the teacher to give guidelines as to which stations should be used for this assignment. This will avoid content issues, and assist in the peer evaluative portion described below.
  3. Students will then write a paragraph for each of the chosen songs that describe a story line inspired by the music and pictures together.
  4. Each of the students will then present their three paragraphs and music picture combinations to the rest of the students, and have them guess what music goes with which combination. If each member of the class is familiar with the song chosen, it will not be necessary to bring in recordings of each song chosen by each student during this peer evaluation.
  5. Students will then pick their favorite individual combination of music and pictures, and write a short story, expanding on the existing paragraph. Students will demonstrate correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  6. Following the revisions, students will package the final copy in storybook form with the magazine pictures inserted in the text.
  7. An artistic cover will be created using, paint, pencil, chalk etc. that depicts one scene from the story line.
  8. The final work will be displayed at a school open house, parent teacher conference, local library, on the wall at a local restaurant, or printed in the local paper etc.
  9. This project may be turned into a digital portfolio. Scan the pictures in the jpg format; turn the music examples into midi files, and save this as a web page on a school or personal web site.

V. Classroom Assessment

  • Students should have completed all assignments, and actively participated in all discussions.
  • During the peer evaluation of the three paragraphs, classmates should have been able to match the music to the paragraph.
  • The story should have correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and follow a logical progression.

VI. Relevant National Standards


    • Content Standard #6: Demonstrates competence in listening to, analyzing, and describing music
    • Content Standard #7: Demonstrates competence in evaluating music and music performances
    • Content Standard #8: Demonstrates competence in understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts

Language Arts

    • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
    • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process
    • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
    • Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions


    • Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs including the Internet


VIII. Related websites Instruments of the world Instruments of the world The Symphony: An Interactive guide to the history and development of the symphony, with biographies of composers, sound clips from major works, and a symphonic timeline from 1750-1950.


Information about the author

Brett Smith’s sixteen years of teaching classroom, vocal, and instrumental music, have been broad and varied including each grade level of K-12 students as well as College instruction. Teaching assignments have included suburban and rural settings, with his present duties focusing on elementary classroom music in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. Brett received his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College and his M.A. in Music Education from the University of Minnesota.

In October of ’99, Brett was named the Minnesota Teacher of the Year, and went on to become one of the four finalists for the 2000 National Teacher of the Year. He is the President-elect of the Minnesota Music Educators Association, and on the American Composers Forum Advisory Committee for the development of the New Band Horizons Project, (pursuing collaborations with great composers to write music for second year band). He is a past Board Representative of the Minnesota Band Directors Association, past Board vice-president of the Mahtomedi Area Education Foundation, and the Treasurer and Negotiator for his local Education Association. While at Mahtomedi, he has developed, implemented and marketed the Master Musician Program: nine sequential interdisciplinary units incorporating music theory, music history, and the study of other cultures into the performance classroom. He performs on drum-set with the Century College Jazz Ensemble, the St. Louis Park Community Jazz Ensemble, and voice and drum-set with the variety group "A Touch of Class".

  pic2  pic3