Music for Youth: Melody and Meaning

How do musicians and composers create meaning through music? Whether it is communicating an emotion, or feeling, telling a story, or interpreting a musical statement, musicians, conductors and composers are masters of the art of expression.
Grades 5-8 suggested

The Melody and Meaning content is broken into smaller video clips further down the page. If you prefer to view the youth concert as a whole, please watch the video directly below.

Symphony No. 5, Mvt. I
by Ludwig van Beethoven

Exploring music as a way to communicate and express emotions, thoughts and ideas.

Music & Emotion
Romeo & Juliet Overture, Love Theme
by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 2, Mvt. I
by Alexander Borodin

Composers’ musical choices affect how we feel when listening to a piece of music.

This clip includes a video accompanying each musical selection to compare and contrast the emotions felt while watching the same video with different music.

Musical Illustrations
La Mer, Mvt. III
by Claude Debussy

Music has the power to paint a picture in our minds.


Understanding how a composer’s choice of musical elements can help express a feeling or an image for the listener.
Grades 5-8 suggested

Musical Storytelling
The Sleeping Beauty Suite
Mvt. I Intro: la fee des lilas
Mvt. V Valse
by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Telling a story through in music.


Discover the inspiration behind the classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.
Grades 5-8 suggested

Musical Form
Symphony No. 88, Mvt. IV
by Joseph Haydn

Analyzing the organization of music through recurring musical themes.


Identify the unique themes in rondo form, with a sign language extension.
Grades 5-8 suggested

The Composer
Seven O’Clock Shout
by Valerie Coleman

Experience music by a living American composer!


Learn about the life and music of two composers from different eras.
Grades 5-8 suggested

Music & Meaning
Over the Rainbow
by Harold Arlen
arr. by Pellet

The melody and rhythms that accompany the lyrics help give power and meaning to the words themselves in this familiar song.

Over the Rainbow Lyrics Sheet

The Firebird Suite, Finale
by Igor Stravinsky

Based on Russian folk tales and premiered as a ballet, the triumphant finale of The Firebird is a powerful example of musical expression.

Additional Resources



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Learn the fundamentals of singing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.

High school student members with Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell

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BPO Teaching Artists

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Music Education Resources

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