James MacMillan, one of Scotland's most celebrated composers, talks about one of his most famous works, 'The Confession of Isobel Gowdie'. He outlines the story behind the music, describing the character of Isobel Gowdie and the events surrounding her death, when she was put to death as a witch. James contemplates whether or not it is important to understand the story when listening to the music. He also talks about the influence that religion has on his music. Features the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra rehearsing 'The Confession of Isobel Gowdie'.
Engage the whole class in a discussion about music that tells a story. Does it help to know the story first? In smaller groups, challenge students to come up with suggestions of pieces of music they know which tell specific stories. Can they give three reasons why it is important for their musical development to listen to new music, and music that they haven't heard before?