Scores – A Sounding Board for Inspiration

In the madness of prepping to present at our provincial PD day, I almost forgot to write something this week.

Luckily, one of my presentations is about using the things you really like in the classroom, specifically pop culture. Reading my contributions to Moving Writers, that’s not a surprise at all.

This summer, like many people, I got pulled deep into Stranger Things on Netflix. I could go on about so many aspects of that show, and am getting ready for a second viewing. An element that popped out for me, as well as many others was the score.

As a movie buff, and former teacher of a media studies course, the use of music in filmed entertainment fascinates me. I mean, John Williams’ Star Wars score resonated with me early on, and the notes of the Imperial March never fail to raise the hairs on my neck.

Promo art via Netflix

A lot of my writing this fall has actually been accompanied by Netflix scores, Stranger Things, and more recently, the Luke Cage score. Each contributes such atmosphere to its respective show. The duo Survive created such gorgeously ominous music for Stranger Things, recalling the creepy sci-fi of my 80’s boyhood. The 70’s inspired, hip-hop infused tracks on Adrian Y0unge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Luke Cage score vibrate with funk and energy. I’ve noticed an interesting impact on my writing while listening. I’ve been thinking about seeing if this impact replicates itself in my classroom.

The obvious application is simply playing selections whilst the students write. I’ve used instrumental music this way in my classroom, like I’m sure many of us have, playing a piece, and asking students to simply write what the music inspires. It’s always neat, and the scores to those two shows would, no doubt, be a catalyst for some great writing.

Writing, in our modern world, often means sitting at a computer. For me, that means I’m in my basement, and if I’m not listening to records, I pop open iTunes. As I select an album there, I see a list of titles. Stranger Things gives me titles like One Blink For Yes, Photos In The Woods, Hanging Lights and Cops Are Good At Finding. Luke Cage offers up In The Wind, Red-Handedly Blameless and Big Man Little Jacket. I love the notion of setting my writers free to write stories that go with those titles.

Luke Cage actually expands the idea of song titles as inspiration, as every episode of the series has its title lifted from a Gang Starr song. (Apparently, Shondra Rhimes does the same thing with Gray’s Anatomy. I’ll take that one on faith, never having seen an episode, and planning to maintain that stance.) I love the idea of students taking their inspiration from an artist, or album, that they love.

I love bringing the things that I love into the classroom, and music is one of those things. I especially love the idea of using someone’s art to inspire the creative works of my students.

Are there other great scores that I’m missing? How do you use music to inspire creative writing in your classroom?

Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @doodlinmunkyboy!



  1. Wisconsin Connections Academy is an online public school that students throughout the state of Wisconsin attend from home. The school is licensed through the Appleton Area School District and provides a rigorous, quality education that meets Wisconsin state standards. The school provides a supportive learning environment for K-12 students and individualized schedule flexibility. Students also benefit from personalized teaching and opportunities to meet their classmates in-person during numerous field trips throughout the school year.

  2. Wisconsin Virtual School (WVS), is a supplemental online course provider that partners with school districts throughout Wisconsin, to offer online courses to middle and high school students.
    WVS has been operated out of CESA 9 since 2000 and has served over 27,000 enrollments to date, with over half of Wisconsin’s school districts participating in the program.

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