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Playing From The Heart

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

This blog post is in connection with Music Room Reads, a page I started with Alessandra @teachfromthestage to share our love of picture books for the music room. This is my first post for Music Room Reads and I am really excited to share this special book!

Playing From The Heart tells the story of Raj, a boy who discovers the piano on his own and truly enjoys it so his father signs him up for piano lessons. He learns everything from scales to songs as he grows up and although his father is so proud of him, he loses interest in playing piano. It's not until his father becomes ill that he comes back to the piano that he reconnects with his love of music. This book is written by Canadian author Peter Reynolds. He's written other, amazing books like The Dot, Ish and The North Star that have graced the shelves of teachers all over the world.

This book is a great addition to your library and a great way to get your students to connect or think deeply about their feelings. It is a great lesson on using music as a way to release emotions, connect emotional with others through music and shows us that perfection isn't everything. Many of us musicians turned music teachers can related to this story. After university, I didn't touch a piano for two years. TWO YEARS. When I was playing for competitions, exams, and performances for so long, I didn't know how to approach playing for fun and it stopped being a tool for dealing with my emotions. It really wasn't until I started teaching music full time and having opportunities to play for my students and coworkers that I fell in love with the piano again.

I love this book so much so here are some ideas on how you can use this book in your music room!

Host a "Playing From The Heart" Concert

Plan a concert where students can play a song of their choice! Often times in a school or private lessons setting, students have to follow a theme or have some restrictions on their choice of song. Having a concert like this could be a fun opportunity for students to play a song they are passionate about and give you some insight on the type of music they like.

You can print out these signs and give them to your audience members so they can show support to their peers. You can find the signs here.

Playing From The Heart Printables

I created these printables because I was so inspired by this book! The first page that says "Music Is" allows students to make up their own definition for what music is and turn it into a poster. This would be great for any time of the year but you could totally use this for Music In Our Schools Month! The second one asks students to draw a picture on the inside of a heart to show what music means to them and how it makes them feel. You can also use this heart as a template for the next activity! Get these in my Freebie Library.

Playing From The Heart Art Activity

In the story, there is a line where Raj says that the "notes mixed the way he mixed his watercolours" which inspired this craft. This activity is so easy to do with your students and can be turned into a beautiful bulletin board!

All you need is:

- Heart cut outs (or you can totally use the page from the printables above!)

- Sheet music

- Glue

- Paint brushes

- Watercolours

You may need to get your students heart songs (a.k.a. favourite songs) ahead of time so you can have them printed and ready to go! Students rip up the papers of their heart song to then glue on their heart template in a paper mache style, leaving the title intact. Once small papers are glued on, students can glue on the title. Then with the watercolours of their choice, students can paint all over to create this beautiful watercolour music piece that you can put on display!

I hope you find as much joy in this book that I have. If you read this book to your students or do any of these activities, please let me know! I love hearing about how your students enjoy my activities!

For more content like this, make sure you are following me @musicpluscoffee and @musicroomreads on Instagram! You can find Playing From The Heart by Peter H. Reynolds at pretty much any store that sells books. Happy Reading!

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