Create Your Own Performance
To create a performance of the story of The Phoenix of Persia, with accompanying music
After reading The Phoenix of Persia, listening to the music and trying out the activities focused around rhythms and modes, can your class perform in the oral-musical story-telling tradition of ancient Iran?
Pupils can either:
(a) narrate the story to the 'music-only' soundtrack, available here.
OR (b) they can act out the story to specially composed music. One group of pupils can act the story characters, while others take turns to accompany each character (for instance, on keyboards, glockenspiels, untuned percussion and other instruments), just as in the book. The accompaniment can be composed in advance or created during the performance.
The performance might include costumes, and also a backdrop created through related art activities.
For (b), music composition: ask pupils to think about which instruments they would choose to represent different characters, and why?
The magical Simorgh bird
The Tree of Life
The Mountain of Gems
The baby Simorgh chicks
Encourage pupils to think about how the music ofThe Phoenix of Persia fits the story and changes as the story develops. They can think about their own piece growing with the story in the same way.
Pupils can also reflect on the mood of the story, and how their music will accompany this. They can consider the following musical elements to help tell the story:
Structure - what order do things come in - story with melody, or melody first then story, etc?
Dynamics - volume, how loud or quiet do pupils want the music to be at certain points?
Tempo and Pace - speed, how fast or slow should the music be at different points in the story?
Pitch - how high or low? Pupils can decide whether to play the music high up on the instrument or with a low, deeper sound.
Timbre - what instruments will pupils choose to use, and where in the story will they use them? Encourage pupils to think about the character and what sounds might be used to depict different characters.
Improvisation is an important part of Iranian classical music. It takes musicians many years to learn the many modes and hundreds of melodic patterns that are the basis for creative performance. Musicians then improvise on the modes and patterns that they have learnt.
Extension work might include links to the English curriculum with pupils re-telling The Phoenix of Persia story in their own words. Other creative/writing activity ideas include drawing comic strip versions of the story (link also to Art curriculum) and letter writing (see examples of letter writing in More Ideas for Classroom Activities).