Music is a universal language. Whether your students enjoy listening to music, love to sing, or are learning to play an instrument, there’s something about music that “strikes a chord” with young teens. That said, these middle school music writing prompts can be used with kids of all ages.
1. Master Musician
Would you rather be an accomplished singer or play an instrument well? What would you do if you had immense talent in creating music with your voice or instrument?
2. Conductor’s Crisis
The sweeping sound of an orchestra is created by many parts working as one. String, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments perform together to create the movie score for Star Wars or a Broadway overture for Beauty and the Beast. Imagine that you are a famous conductor, and your string (or brass or woodwind or percussion) section has gone on strike just before an important performance. The curtain is supposed to rise three hours from now! How will you save the show?
3. Make Me An Instrument
Personification is when you make an object think and act like a human. Use descriptive words and personification to write about what it’s like to be a musical instrument such as a piano, violin, guitar, or drum.
4. Timberland Band
Imagine you are trying to start a rock band, praise band, or string quartet in the middle of a wild forest or jungle. What kinds of natural materials will you use to make instruments? What sorts of interruptions will you encounter during rehearsals? Write about how you will overcome these challenges and reach musical success.
5. Music’s Charms
William Congreve (1670-1729) was an English playwright and poet who wrote, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast.” Write about a time when music helped soften your anger or improve your grumpy attitude.
6. Keeping Time
While practicing their instruments, musicians often use a device called a metronome to beat a steady rhythm or “keep time.” A metronome can beat faster or slower, depending on how it is set. If someone asked you to invent a new metronome, what would it look like? What would it sound like? Think creatively, and write as descriptively as you can.
Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays! Once a month we feature prompts especially for teens.
If you’re tired of writing about the same old topics, try these Musical Creative Writing Prompts.
These 30 prompts are guaranteed to dig you out of that rut and generate new material, and each one of them will offer a wonderful chance to exercise your writing muscles.
My advice is to start playing the music while you read the writing prompt, and let the music influence your prose as you start writing.
The early ones tend to be easier, so if you’re looking for more advanced prompts, check out the ones toward the end.
These prompts will work for flash fiction as well as serving up inspiration for longer pieces. And if you write flash fiction, make sure to check out this post on the Top 20 Flash Fiction Journals, where I rank flash fiction journals based on their website traffic. If you keep to short stories, you might want to look at these Rankings of Literary Magazines.
If any of these prompts are especially helpful, I would love to hear about it in the comments section. Tell me which ones are your favorites, or post a piece that you wrote because of one of these prompts.
1. Sufjan Stevens: “All of Me Wants All of You”
Write a scene at a water park where a love-stricken teenager tries to win the attention of an indifferent female.
Saw myself on Spencer’s Butte (All of me wants all of you)
Landscape changed my point of view (All of me wants all of you)
Revelation may come true (All of me wants all of you)
Now all of me thinks less of you (All of me wants all of you)
2. Alabama Shakes: “Don’t Wanna Fight No More”
Write about an uneasy truce between a couple on a long journey together, and how the air thickens with tension every time they come upon the one forbidden topic they know they can’t discuss.
What you like, what I like
Why can’t we both be right?
Until there’s nothing left worth winning
Your pride and my pride
Don’t waste my time
3. Other Lives: “Black Tables”
Write about a person who recently tried to commit suicide coming back to school or work.
When the life in your eyes wants black
Things return. You’ve come back
With your body and your mind restored
It’s good to see
You once more
4. The Oh Hellos: “I Have Made Mistakes”
Write about a father who chooses the climb up at the beginning of a roller coaster ride to admit to his son the three biggest mistakes he’s made in his life.
I have made mistakes
I continue to make them
The promises I’ve made
I continue to break them
5. Asgeir: “Going Home”
Write about a prodigal son or daughter making their way home after a long absence, and the reactions of their family when they arrive unannounced.
Home, I’m making my way home
My mind’s already there
Yes, my mind is
6. Arcade Fire: “No Cars Go”
After your character quits his or her job, they arrive at a strange vacation choice (nudist colony? work commune? farm? Montana ranch?). Write about how their lofty expectations of their place differ from the reality.
We know a place where no planes go
We know a place where no cars go
We know a place where no spaceships go
We know a place where no subs go
Little babies, let’s go!
Women and children, let’s go!
Old folks, let’s go!
7. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: “Jumpin’ Jack”
Show your character dancing and have their style of dance reveal their personality. How do they react when someone approaches them and tries to dance with them, especially someone they want to dance with or someone they don’t want to dance with? Don’t use any words to describe their reaction, only body language.
When you hit the dance floor you gotta be jumpin’ jack
Jump on in jump with your baby
Like a wild train rollin right down your track
8. Brazil 5000: Brazil 5000
Write a sex scene between two characters who know each other well and who keep getting annoyed at the small things the other one does. Have the sex serve as a metaphor for the problems in their relationship, and reveal what they think about the relationship from the way they act in bed.
9. Gregorian Chant: “Camelot Monastery”
Write about a character seeking a more profound spirituality who goes to a silent one-day retreat at a monastery. What problems do they experience, and what solutions do they discover for their life?
10. Elizabeth Mitchell: “Who’s My Pretty Baby”
Write from the POV of a child who discovers an exotic animal in her backyard and who adopts it as her baby, trying to dress it up with a bonnet and have a tea party with it. What happens when the animal turns mean or the parents discover it?
Who’ll be my little man
Who’ll be my nice lady
Who’ll be my funny little buddy
Hey hey pretty babe
11. Clint Mansell: “Welcome to Lunar Industries”
Describe a strange and foreign landscape as your character sees it for the first time after being stranded/abandoned there. Make your character into the kind of pioneer that must dominate this environment, but have them all too aware of the obstacles.
12. Johnny Cash: “I Walk the Line”
Put your married character into a situation where they’re tempted to flirt with someone else.
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you’re mine, I walk the line
13. Miles Davis: “Summertime”
Two men meet on a park bench during a summer night. Using almost all dialogue, show how one of them wants something the other is not willing to give.
14. Moby: “Porcelain”
Write a goodbye letter from a fiance to her engaged, explaining why she has to leave him.
I never meant to hurt you
I never meant to lie
So this is goodbye
This is goodbye
15. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: “Red Right Hand”
A man has broken into the house of the man who slept with his wife, intending to kill him. As he stands over the sleeping cuckold’s bed, what does he notice about the man, and what does he decide to do?
You’ll see him in your nightmares,
you’ll see him in your dreams
He’ll appear out of nowhere but
he ain’t what he seems
See prompts 16 – 30
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