The Pink and Red Cluster students sat cross-legged on the floor of the North Building cafeteria, each with a small cup of popcorn in their hands, as the lights were lowered and a very special video presentation began with a narrator’s voice and the trill of a flute. The world premiere of the Red Cluster’s video of Peter and the Wolf had begun!
The video was the result of a four-month-long effort on the part of the Red Cluster students, who invited their younger classmates from the Pink Cluster to enjoy the show. The film stars members of the Red Cluster as they take on the characters of the piece, each of whom is represented by a different instrument:
- Peter (Strings)
- The Bird (Flute)
- The Duck (Oboe)
- The Cat (Clarinet)
- The Grandfather (Bassoon)
- The Wolf (French Horns)
- The Hunters (Timpani or Kettle Drums)
The students were filmed performing the actions and emotions of each character in front of a green screen. Music Teacher Michael Piedmont explained, “I was looking toward the kinesthetic, the moving of the body to retain information and better remember the lesson.”
Mr. Piedmont’s use of kinesthetic activities to teach music begins in the Pink Cluster with a lesson on the Carnival of the Animals (French composer Camille Saint-Saëns in the Pink Cluster. He described the piece as, “a musical tone poem where each one of the pieces represents an animal, and that gets the kids interested in the orchestra.”
He explained, “The Carnival of the Animals is the students’ first exploration into being filmed moving to music in front of a green screen, then picking fun backgrounds like an aquarium or the savannah. Usually, when you move your body, and you are in a production that you can physically see, you’re going to retain that information. And it really holds true. When I told this year’s Red Cluster that they were going to be invited to this year’s Pink Cluster Carnival of the Animals presentation, they all remembered what animals they were in the year prior, and they remembered the instruments, the music, and even the composer’s name.”
Mr. Piedmont described Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf as, “the next step, because it takes all of that moving to music, but then it has that full narrative since it is telling the story of the characters and each character is represented by a different instrument in the orchestra.” The students filmed the sequences throughout the fall semester in front of a green screen, and then their performances were superimposed onto backgrounds to make the story come to life.
The audience at the world premiere sat rapt with attention, and reacted with joy at the sight of the bird and the duck, giggled at the sight of one of their classmates pretending to be the grandfather with his cane, and were quietly wary of the wolf and the hunters.
The Red Cluster students are looking forward to seeing the results of the Pink Cluster’s Carnival of the Animals after spring break.