Lately, I’ve been think a lot about music. I’ve also been thinking a lot about writing; I’m teaching students the writing section of the TOEFL exam. Music can be a useful teaching tool for writing. For example, sometimes students have to write a compare and contrast essay, for example, compare and contrast the food in your country with the food in the United States. There are many ways to teach how to write a compare and contrast essay. One way to illustrate compare and contrast is to play two versions of the same song. For example, play a symphonic arrangement of Hey Jude with the original or a jazz version.
Essays have a structure. The standard TOEFL essay is a 5-paragraph essay. The first paragraph states your opinion and introduces three reasons that you will use to prove your point of view. The second, third, and fourth paragraphs develop each of the three supporting reasons. The fifth paragraph provides a conclusion. This structure may relate to musical composition. The first paragraph is analogous to the initial melody. The following three paragraphs are analogous to the development and variations of the melody. The key and harmony may change or other embellishments may be added. The final paragraph is analogous to a replaying of the original melody with a bit of the previous variations.
Essays have rhythm. Each sentence has it’s own tempo. Word choice develops the rhythm. The author’s voice sets the timbre.
There are many other relationships between writing and music. This is of interest to me. Please share your thoughts and comments with me.