No matter what age group or grade, from lullabies to Disney, from country to pop, from Taylor Swift to One Direction, your students will feel like rock stars with these expository writing prompts on music.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Prompt 1: What song makes you happy?
Prompt 2: What you rather be a piano or a guitar? Why?
Prompt 3: Would you rather be a set of drums or a violin? Why?
Prompt 4: Make up a song about a dancing frog and a guitar playing crocodile. What would the song be about?
For the older grades:
Prompt 5: Your music teacher has acquired a musical instrument that the aborigines used in Australia called a didgeridoo. Only one student is going to be allowed to learn the instrument. You want to be that student. Write a persuasive letter to your teacher telling her why you want to play the didgeridoo.
Prompt 6: Your music teacher has asked you to research three unusual instruments and pick the one you’d like to learn to play. The instruments are a tsabouna, a tamburitza and a kazoo. After researching the instruments, write an essay explaining why you chose the one you did.
Prompt 7: Choose a specific establishment (shopping mall, law firm, doctor’s office, sports stadium, fast food restaurant, fine dining establishment) and imagine you were in charge of choosing the music for it. Explain how music can affect one’s mood. Explain what type of music you’ll use and why.
Prompt 8: In 1993 and again in 1995, scientists at the University of California at Irvine found that college students who listened to a sonata by Mozart for a few minutes before taking a test did better than students who listened to no music or even music by another musician. Do you believe that music can make you more intelligent just by listening to it? Should teachers play Mozart sonatas whenever they give a test?
Prompt 9: The new school you moved to thinks that music is a waste of time. There are no music classes, no choir classes, no music played at sports events, and no one is allowed to listen to music on their electronic devices while on school grounds or on the bus. How do you think that will affect the mood of the students?
Prompt 10: A famous musician once said that the reason he loved the banjo so much was because you can’t play a sad tune on it. Are there any other instruments that you can think of that can only play happy, uplifting music? If you can’t think of one, write about why you think the banjo has that one special quality.
Prompt 11: Think about your favorite singer, band or musician and write a letter to your pen pal in another country telling about this musician and why he or she is your favorite.
Prompt 12: Write a letter to the editors of Music Mag magazine. Discuss your favorite song and explain why it’s so important to you.
Prompt 13: Write an essay about your favorite CD to be placed in a time capsule that will be buried this year and opened in 2500. Be sure to explain any things that you think may not be used anymore in their time and include some thoughts on what you think music in the year 2500 will be like.
Prompt 14: What’s the first song you remember learning as a child? Who taught it to you? Do you still remember the words and music?
Prompt 15: What instruments would you like to play and why?
Prompt 16: If Beethoven came back to life today and heard his music being used to sell everything from cars to diapers, do you think he’d be happy that his music had reached such a wide audience or do you think he’d be disgusted that the music he worked on for so long was used in advertising?
Prompt 17: Friedrich Nietzsche said “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Do you agree or disagree?
Prompt 18: Pick a favorite line from a favorite song and write about what it means to you personally.
Prompt 19: Listen to a sampling of traditional music from China, Africa, and Greece. What things about their music are the same? What is different? Which did you prefer and why?
Prompt 20: Picture yourself deep in the woods. Can you visualize the sounds that are being made by the birds, the breezes in the trees, the small animals scurrying around? Does it sound like music to you?
Prompt 21: Picture yourself all alone at the beach. Are the rhythmic sounds of the ocean waves music to you? Why or why not?
Prompt 22: Listen to one song that was popular in the following decades of the twentieth century: early 1900’s Ragtime, 1920’s Jazz, 1930’s Swing, 1940’s Big Band. Which era was your favorite? Would did you like about the music from that time?
Prompt 23: Listen to a song in a language you are not familiar with. Do you understand the mood of the song without knowing the words?
Prompt 24: Do you think that the saying, “Music is a language that everyone understands” is true? Why or why not?
Prompt 25: Do you play a musical instrument? Why did you choose the instrument you did? If you don’t play one, which one would you like to play? Why did you pick the one you did?
Prompt 26: Music can get your heart racing or help calm you down. Think of a song which does either of these and write how it makes you feel when you listen to it. Why do you think it affects you the way it does?
Prompt 27: Music was not able to be recorded before 1887. Which means all of the classical performances that ever occurred before that are lost to the wind. How do you think it must have felt to be able to listen to a favorite song over and over again when the gramophone was invented?
Prompt 28: Is there a song that makes you happy every time you hear it? Write about it and why it affects you that way.
Prompt 29: Is there a song that makes you so sad you want to cry when you hear it? What makes it so sad? Is it the lyrics or the melody?