Making Sense of Emotions by Making Music

It’s common to associate colors with emotions, as Kathryn Otoshi does in her book, One, where Blue is a quiet color, Yellow is sunny, and Orange is outgoing. Dr. Harley Givler, Director of Bands and Lower School Ensemble Director, asked his third grade students to imagine what those characters and their emotions would sound like as a musical composition. With direction from Dr. Givler, the third graders assigned an instrument to each character and composed music to create a musical adaptation of One. The third grade classes then performed their musical story for their PreK Book Buddies.

Through the story of Blue, who gets bullied by hothead Red, students learn about emotions and feelings, tolerance and acceptance, and how to address bullying by being an upstander. This music project is a great example of how social emotional learning and the opportunity and the ability to recognize, name, and notice feelings and emotions in ourselves and others is embedded throughout Shipley’s curriculum. In addition, Dr. Givler hopes the third graders’ performance inspires musical appreciation and curiosity about different instruments among Shipley’s youngest students.



The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.