Nicole Schmidt, an elementary school teacher with over eighteen years of full time teaching experience, was in the audience for the premier of my Five Evening Pieces for Piano in early spring of 2009. Shortly afterward, she asked if she could play an audio recording of several of them in her first grade classroom as a springboard to help her students to connect the feeling upon hearing a music composition with whatever images that the music evoked for them. It was important for this exercise to choose music that was not previously known, so there would be no prior associations with a particular music piece.
For her first time in doing this exercise she chose Evening Begins. She told me that the exercise involved first listening to the piece all the way through. Then, while the class continued to listen to the piece, the students drew a picture of whatever the music evoked for them. Afterward, they shared what they had drawn with the teacher and the rest of the class. Quite often, Ms. Schmidt said the images took the form of a story.
For most all of her students, Evening Begins evoked outdoor images and story lines. Several days later, they again listened to the piece a number of times through and used their picture and the music to write some words about their images, expanding and more specifically describing their impressions of the music as a story.