Element 3: “Imagine, what you hear!” Shadow Play


Within this element of the programme section, students produce a shadow play to a selected musical composition. Not only will they produce the play, but also perform as its actors. The objective is to raise awareness of the character and message of the selected musical composition by way of the stage technique and shadow play, and to enable students to convey this character and message also in a different language.

Duration: preparation (at home) 4 x 45 min., classroom work 5 x 45 min.

Age: from age 8 to 18

Key words creativity & entrepreneurship: Persistence, Transformation in production, Originality of ideas, Working in teams, Production and overtaking the risk


  1. The selection of a short musical composition, or musical extract, which students then use to create a shadow play that goes well with its message and character. When selecting it, students should consider the length of the music, and choose a few-minute-long composition or extract.
  2. Inventing a story, a dramaturgy to the selected piece. To do this, students need to get thoroughly acquainted with the musical piece by listening to it very often.
  3. Imagining the ways in which the invented story and its single scenes will be visualized. By way of example, if the story is about an excursion, then the projection screen may show a student roaming with a backpack, drinking from a glass, resting under a tree. Selection of the props.
  4. Projection screen installation, selection of the location for the shadow play; the designation of the “auditorium” and “stage” as well as the ways these will be darkened.
  5. Learning how to cope with the lighting technology, the lights; experimenting on visualization on the big screen. Appointment of three people for light-effects crew for lighting from different places, which sometimes are close to one another.Learning the role; practising the single scenes.Scene rehearsals, “dress rehearsals,” preparation for the shadow play performance.
  6. Appointing the student and adult participants, and the precise definition and description of their tasks related to their roles in the shadow play. Appointing the length of the roles according to the length of the musical components, musical pieces.
  7. Learning the role; practising the single scenes.
  8. Alignment of the scenes in sequence. Coordinating the work of the cast and the light-effects crew.
  9. Scene rehearsals, “dress rehearsals,” preparation for the shadow play performance.

Video Example Shadow Play


Scenario for the Video Example:

Title 0 – 0’06

Musicians’ appearance 0’07 – 0’22

Students’ appearance 0’23 – 0’33

Interlude 0’34 – 0’42

Student 1 on excursion 0’43 – 0’46

Interlude 0’47 – 0’50

Student 2 on excursion 0’51 – 0’54

Interlude 0’55 – 0’57

Student 3 on excursion 0’58 – 1’00

Interlude 1’00 – 1’03

Student 4 on excursion 1’04 – 1’12

Interlude 1’13 – 1’16

Student 1-2 forming a palm tree: idyll 1’17 – 1’44

Interlude 1’45 – 1’51

Student 5 conducts musicians 1’52 – 2’06

Musicians are shadow play actors 2’07 – 2’26

Student 5 conducts musicians 2’27 – 2’49








The pupils are able to

    • act on stage,
    • write scenario,
    • understand musical dramaturgy,
    • recognise their personality, identity to the chosen role,
    • illuminate a shadow play,
    • use stage technique,
    • set stage and costume design,
    • work in team.

Practicing backstage video to shadow play:

Video Example 7 Training



Setting and stage-properties:

canvas sheet and holders, 4 strong flashlights, hat, slice of bread, glass, backpack, paper butterfly, stool

Suggested string quartet repertoire:

  • Beethoven: String Quartet Op.95 No.11 in F minor “Serioso”
  • Haydn: String Quartet Op.50. No. in D major “The Frog”
  • Haydn: String Quartet Op.64 No.5 in D major “The Lark”
  • Haydn: String Quartet Op.76 No.4 in B flat major “Sunrise”
  • Haydn: String Quartet Op.1 No.1 in B flat major “La Chasse”
  • Josef Strauss: Auf Ferienreisen W 133
  • Josef Lanner: Steyrische Tänze Op. 165
  • Shostakovich: Polka