In the heyday of the 1980s and 1990s, music videos became an integral part of a record label's marketing strategy to sell big single releases and any rotation they received on MTV often led to immediate fame and stardom. As the internet exploded, music videos moved platform and garnered millions of hits through YouTube, but perhaps play less of a role in marketing singles than they do generating hits and plays on streaming sites. They are symbolic of the time they were made and many hold a special place in cultural history, from the 1975 Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen to 2018's This is America by Childish Gambino. They have represented the times and pushed boundaries of fashion, art and storytelling to become a modern form of art worthy of being enjoyed and worthy of being viewed as a valuable asset to the classroom.
However, the wealth of videos now available at the click of a button is unprecedented and you can guarantee most children have seen plenty in their time surfing the internet, some far more appropriate than others and some more worthy of closer inspection than others. So here is an opportunity, not only to teach children about the art-form itself, but also to share music videos that make them think, feel and wonder about the world.
David Guetta's Titanium has already become a staple diet in the KS2 classroom where children consider the child as some kind of superhero and describe the opening scene, re-write the thrill of the chase later on in the video or even perhaps write the next chapter! We've researched long and hard and found 20 music videos (with many more on their way) which we think are age-appropriate and lend themselves to some awesome writing!
Music Videos for Writing
Although music videos could be used to stimulate independent writing, we think working as a class, sharing ideas and supporting them with suitable vocabulary is vital for them to make the most out of any writing opportunity. Here's what we do:
Share an image from the music video and ask children to 'Observe' something they can see in the image (try to get detail). Ask them to 'Wonder' and come up with questions linked to what they have observed and finally 'Predict' by using their imagination and inference skills to answer their own questions.This can be done multiple times using bullet points. Share the ideas together as a class and children can add further ideas to their work. All these ideas can be used in their writing should they wish, even if it varies wildly from the music video itself.
Watch the music video and discuss what surprised them. What was the same or different from their inferences? Are they left with further questions?
Read and discuss the 'Video Vocab'. Children could colour each word red (can't read and don't understand the meaning), orange (can read but don't understand the meaning) or green (can read and do understand the meaning) as a quick self-assessment before they are taught explicitly. Any children using green, can attempt to read and explain to the class! There are loads of strategies for learning vocabulary but try to make the words integral to their writing. We can't expect children to pull out vocabulary from a video which they don't have.
Read through the 'Story Starter Ideas' and use them as whole-class discussion points or for paired/independent planning. Again, sharing these with the class and allowing others to magpie ideas accordingly.
Read the 'Story Starter' if this would help start some or all children on their way and help set the scene for them. We'd recommend using our 'Writing Toolkits' alongside this to support them too.
Taking Things Further
We've also added 3 extra ideas per music video. These are related ideas which could fit in to certain topics. For example, the video 'Birthplace' by Novo Amor is a beautifully shot video with a giant whale made from rubbish (put together in a U.K. primary school) so our teaching ideas and links relate to pollution: impacts of litter on marine life, watching and learning the lyrics to a Jack Johnson song called '3R's', creating a whale display and starting up an 'ecobrick' project.
The Marvellous Music Video Collection
To help you choose a suitable video, we've listed them here along with the possible topic links you could make. We'll also update this blog each time we add new videos. Enjoy!
Patrick Wolf (House) - Habitats, Animals, Dylan Thomas
OK GO (This Too Shall Pass) - STEM, Rube Goldberg Machines, Perseverance/Resilience
Peter Gabriel (Sledgehammer) - Stop Motion Animation, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Innovation
Jack Beats (Careless) - Shadow Puppets, Light & Shadows, Science/Experiments/Mutations
Ah-ha (Take On Me) - Sketching, Comic Strips, The 1980s
Novo Amor (Birthplace) - Pollution, Recycling, The Environment
Jamiroquai (Deeper Underground) - Evolution, Camouflage, Monsters
Arcade Fire (Reflector) - Central America/Haiti, Light, Reflection
Gotye (Bronte) - Animals, Habitats, The Jungle Book, Where the Wild Things Are
The Audreys (Sometimes the Stars) - Vincent Van Gogh, WWII
The Smashing Pumpkins (Tonight, Tonight) - Silent Movies, Space, Maths Estimation
David Guetta (Titanium) - Superheroes, Pop Art
The Beastie Boys (Intergalactic Planetary) - Robots, Iron Giant Art, The Iron Man
Tom Comley (DNAUXB) - Space, Space Ships, Code Breaking, Star Wars
Arcade Fire (We Used to Wait) - Maps, Local Area, Nostalgia
Gorrilaz (El Manana) - Windmills, Parachutes, Action, Fantasy
The Shins (The Rifle's Spiral) - Illusions, Magic, Adventure, Mystery
Blur (Coffee and TV) - Adventure, Personification, Origami
Sigur Ros (Glosoli) - Iceland, Physical Geography, Superheroes, Drumming
We have loads more on their way and we'll keep updating the list above! I hope you'll share some of these with your class. If anything, they are simply worth watching regardless.
We hope you find them useful.