By Sara Lehn
Teachers have long taken advantage of students’ love of music as a tool for the classroom, writing catchy tunes to act as mnemonic devices, playing educational songs and music videos, and so on. Watch students in the hallway or cafeteria and you will inevitably find them with headphones blaring, blocking out the world.
As a singer, music speaks to me because of how it reflects the raw emotion of the human soul, and had you asked me at the age of seventeen what song best defined who I was, I could have answered quickly and without hesitation with a choice that clearly illustrated my mindset at the time.
I find that many of my students have an equally personal connection to their music. As a result, I have started to consider the ways that music can be used in the classroom as a tool to reflect the most human part of literature: the characters.
I ask students a simple question: what song represents this character the way your “anthem” represents you? There is no wrong answer to this question, but a thoughtful response requires careful character study and exploration of textual evidence. Students need to consider questions such as:
- What does this character want?
- What matters most to this character?
- What emotions does this character most prominently feel?
- What are the most significant personality traits that the character exhibits?
These questions can instigate a thoughtful and deep exploration of characterization within the text. Students may also decide that more than one song choice is necessary, as characters frequently change and develop from one moment to the next. (more…)