Stravinsky's Firebird: Child-Approved!
I am beyond fortunate to teach a class of students who are so open-minded and willing to journey with me on various learning activities. When I proposed to them that we would be studying Stravinsky's The Firebird (or Oiseau de Feu en français) they were not initially sure what to think. I gave them a bit of background to the story. As we started to study this story both in English and French, I could see the students' imaginations ignite. Although a few of the boys were not keen on the romance between Prince Ivan and Princess Tsarevna, they were soon enthralled by the antics of the evil Kotchei and his monsters!
At the end of the story, all of the children applauded. After all, who doesn't love a story in which light overcomes darkness. It was truly magical to study this colourful Russian folktale with my class and to introduce them to the brilliant music that Stravinsky wrote to accompany it.
It was risky to choose this story for North American students who would prefer to talk about hockey and video games. At points, there was some resistance, but their art, in reaction to the story, illustrates that when given the chance - children's imaginations DO respond to beautiful music and beautiful stories that are outside of their cultural paradigm. Take a risk in your teaching!