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Storytelling Through Music

All over the world, music and storytelling go hand in hand. 

Music helps to bring stories to life.


To develop an understanding of how music can be used to tell stories.


A good starting point is that music has been part of storytelling around the world for thousands of years:

  • Ask pupils to think about how music can bring stories to life. How does it paint characters, places and events?

  • Perhaps pupils can offer examples that they are familiar with such as in films, video games, musicals, etc. You can get the discussion going by suggesting examples of well-known theme tunes from films like Harry Potter or James Bond, or songs like 'Let It Go' from Frozen.

  • We can tell stories through music using particular tunes or instruments for different characters or ideas in a story.

  • In The Phoenix of Persia, each character is represented by a different musical instrument.

    • The Simorgh is represented by the nei.

    • The Mountain of Gems is represented by the santur.

    • Prince Zal is represented by the qanun.

    • King Sam, Queen Aram and the royal court are represented by the tanbur.

    • The soldiers and the wild countryside are represented by the daffThe daff also plays in the celebrations at the end of the story

  • If you haven't already, play the narration set to music from the Phoenix of Persia.​ How does listening to the music change how pupils respond to the story?


  • Another well-known story where each character is represented by a different instrument is Peter & The Wolf by Sergei Prokovief.

Writing Activities

Ask pupils to write about:

  • How the music makes them feel. Encourage pupils to think about the emotions that the music evokes.

  • How does the music reflect on and add to the story? What would the story be like without the music?

Storytelling Activities

Ask pupils to create their own stories set to the music. See pages 8 and 9 of the Teacher's Resource Pack.

The storyteller in The Phoenix of Persia is Sally Pomme Clayton. You can meet Sally and hear her talk about the story here.

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