Music Without Words: Sound as a Storyteller (CTE)


Students will practice this creative concept by creating programmatic music for a silent film and sharing the music on Students will evaluate the music with and with out video.


This is the third lesson in a four lesson unit: Hear Me: Stories We need to Tell! This unit was designed to integrate Music, English, and Special Education. Each lesson can be used alone or with the entire unit with. Additionally, this unit can work without collaboration from other subjects.

In this lesson, students will learn about the ability of programmatic music to tell stories without sound. Students will also analyze how music helps to tell a story in film and radio. Students will do this by watching a scene from Star Wars with and without music, and by listening compositions by Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Berlioz, and John Williams. Next, students will examine a silent film short and will create themes and cues. Finally students will compose, share, and evaluate this music.

I usually teach this lesson in the second quarter. Prior to beginning this unit, students will need to create a SoundCloud account, which is used for sharing projects and playlists. Students should already have learned some compositional techniques shuck as creating different types of chords, rhythms, and melodies through the use of technology.

Lesson Times

3 Class Periods

Industries / Subjects / Grades

Industries / Pathways
  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment Arts, Media, and Entertainment
    • Production and Managerial Arts
K-12 Subjects
  • Visual Arts & Performing Arts
    • Music
Grade Levels
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12

Standards and Objectives


California's 2013 CTE Standards (3)

Related Instructional Objectives (SWBAT...)

  • Compose music for a film using cues and themes.

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