Every other year the 3/4 grade music classes embark on a Film Scoring project. Students begin by choosing a short film, (the basic criteria being that it is essentially non-verbal and would lend itself well to a variety of sound effects.) They never see these films with sound – we watch them silently, and already start to imagine soundtracks. During this exploratory phase we talk about Foley artists, famous film scorers, and the power of music to evoke emotion in film.
Once the film is chosen we break down the action into a script, and students work in small groups to write down what instruments would sound good for each event. Students have free range of almost all the instruments in the music room at this point, so it is happy cacophony!
We then come back together as a group, share our findings, and decide which sounds we all like the best.
Sometimes the sound we want isn’t so easily created and we have to invent and reinvent until we find it. For example, this year, we wanted to make the sound of an egg hitting a face. A student started with the idea to slap a wet facecloth, but soon found out that this sound didn’t project well, even with a microphone. She then moved to a small rubber disc slapped against a music stand – still no good… finally a large rubber base from the gym slapped against the gym floor created the perfect sound.
After the sound effects are chosen we talk about the need for incidental music to add emotion and fill in empty spaces. This is a great opportunity for students who take music lessons outside of school to use their skills. For example, many piano students choose to use repertoire from their lessons and adapt it to the film. Students also create melodies on piano, xylophone and the vibes.
The final step is to practice, practice, practice, until our timing is spot on, and then we share it as a live performance.