Listening for Feelings

Suggested by Philip Belove -

I was trying to find a way to get the students to learn to listen for the nuances of feelings. This seemed to work and the kids really enjoyed it.

First I talk about listening for feelings. I make a list of feelings. I start with mad, sad, bad, glad. I ask them to work in groups to put ten to twenty words underneath those four categories. Then I ask for additional categories. I leave the list up.

I have a tape I've made of about 20 segments of music. Each segment is about a minute long. Some are two minutes long. The idea is to write down the emotion being projected by the music. I start with easy stuff. I have a couple sections from the CD by Carl Stalling who composed the music for all the Warner Brothers cartoons. Very clearly defined moods here. Then I get slippery. I start with an upbeat version of Dixie from the Civil War CD by Ken Burns, the brass quartet. Then there is a mournful version of Dixie. I play a couple other sad-ish tunes. I played Pete Seeger singing "My name is Lisa Kalvaledge." This is a hard one for them to get. I move from that to a very feel-good blues tune. I have some Tibetan pastoral music, a Yiddish tune, and a Greek chant. I've added a couple speeches from foreign films, too. Finally I end with the "That's all folks" from the Warner Brothers Cartoons.

I have them sit in groups and every three or four tunes I have them compare notes with each other on what they hear. It all takes about an hour and a half.

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