How and Why to Read with Music


We all know music creates a mood in any setting. Since 2001 I have been reading to students of all ages with music as an intentional mood setter. As a film composer I have experienced how dramatically the music completely changes any scene. The words don’t change, but their meaning does. This is how my foundation has been teaching subtext and the power of language to 3 year olds, elementary school students and all the way up to adult learners.


This is actually simple and a real thrill for reader and audience alike.  Here’s what you do:

  • Choose a book (for example; Giraffes Can’t Dance)

  • Choose a piece of music (for example: Summon the Heroes by John Williams)

  • Change the volume, pace and inflection of your voice to match the music

When I say match the music, this does not have to be exact. It’s about creating peaks and valleys related to emotion and meaning. Think about how many ways you can say, “Gerald was a tall giraffe.”


With music, we can learn how to listen for, and speak with an endless number of possible intonations. Students of all ages can be guided to experience a limitless sense of how they can express any text and eventually, their own ideas.

Luke Hewlett