Melody

A new series about music & emotions
By John Francisco & Carolyn Defrin

Rock out with Melody as she explores her emotions with the help of her fantastic music school. Viewers develop their own social-emotional skills as they dance and sing along!  Geared for children ages 4-7, each episode combines music, dance, live action, and animation.

Come feel the music with me!

Original Music

Each episode contains original music... Have a listen to some songs we've created so far!

Good Morning to The Morning! -
00:0000:00
Monster Moves - John Francisco
00:0000:00
There for you -
00:0000:00

Characters

MANUEL

Quiet and calm, Melody's favorite secret-keeper

MELODY 

The sensitive star of our show

JIE-QI 

Melody's biggest champion and challenger

RILEY

Goofy, unedited, and a bit over-committed

XAVIER 

 Passionately precise

BETHANY

Be-Bop Music Shop Manager

JYL

Dancing chef at the Rock 'n' Roll café 

FRANCISCO

Everyone's favorite music teacher

COLTRANE

Local street musician 

BRUCE 

The sound engineer 

Full character descriptions below

Welcome to

Newton School of Music! 

A place where everyone can get into the groove...

 With buzzin’ classrooms, a bangin’ music shop, a scrumptious café, and...

A spectacular concert hall! 

Full setting descriptions below

Episode Structure & Ideas

Every episode Melody and friends gain insight into social-emotional awareness through music.

LEARN

new musical skills!

PLAY 

new instruments!

MEET

famous composers!

ATTEND

professional concerts!

Sample Episodes

"Nervous"

"Silly"

"Angry"

"Confused"

"Sad"

Full episode descriptions below

Full Pitch Bible

Meet the Characters

Melody

“Hi I’m Melody! Nice to meet you!  Do you like music?  Cause I LOVE music!  Right now, my favorite bands are The Way-Way-Back-Boys and the B52s.  But I’m also really into reggae… and jazz… And… Oh… All this talking about myself makes me feel...like a hundred butterflies are fluttering around my insides and one might fly out any second and I might accidentally puke all over your sneakers! Gahhh!”

Introducing the one and only, sweet and sensitive star of our show!  Melody is a 6-year-old music-lover, who feels emotions on a grand scale. Equal parts spunky, shy, serious and silly, her emotions often overwhelm her and her relationships. Sometimes she gets so nervous, she refuses to take her solo, forcing Jie-Qi to cover for her.  When she’s excited about winning concert tickets, she completely fails to recognize Manuel’s disappointment.  Regardless of what she’s feeling, Melody is kind, caring, and eager to learn about her emotions, herself, and how she fits into the world around her

Xavier

“In my assessment of your dilemma, there’s only one solution.  It’s the way I make most of my decisions. First, you get a 26-sided die.  Then...”

Xavier is a clinical know-it-all, with a passion for grammar, and a die-hard enthusiasm for science.  Unemotional to a fault, he identifies and solves problems with precise logic.  He frequently acts superior to other students and grown-ups, offering unsolicited opinions and advice, but beneath it all, Xavier really wants people to be grateful for his knowledge.

Manuel

“My mom gave me music pencils to share with the class.  Which one do you want?  I got pianos and guitars, and one violin left...Oops, it broke… ok, I got pianos and guitars...”

A generous, soft-spoken, hopelessly-clumsy soul, Manuel is Melody’s favorite secret-keeper at Newton School. His shy, quiet nature offers her insight into more subtle understandings of emotional expression.  However, his introverted personality can sometimes confuse and frustrate Melody, and her more overt emotions can sometimes overwhelm him.

Riley

“You wanna hear a secret?  I’m pretty sure there’s an elf that lives in my guitar.  Because a few months ago, I accidentally dropped a Goldfish cracker in the sound hole and then in the middle of the night I could hear some shuffling around in there.  So I started leaving little bits of leftovers in there at night so that he doesn’t starve.  Cause I don’t know if he has a job or not and he probably has a family to support, you know?”

The class eccentric, Riley is goofy, scatter-brained, and always saying the first thing that comes into her mind. She’s incredibly entertaining, outrageously funny, and impossible to contain. Her parents have signed her up for too many activities so her signature style often involves a piece of everything: - a tutu, soccer cleats, and swimming goggles. 

Jie-Qi

“You know, some people say that I have the best voice at Newton School... And they’re totally right.  I totally do.  But I’m really humble about it so, yea, I have the best voice but I’m cool about it.  Wait, what was the question?”

Jie-Qi is Melody’s biggest champion and biggest challenger. Bright, bubbly and bold, she is the first to grab Melody’s hand firmly and run towards adventure. Sometimes Jie-Qi’s brash energy, confidence, and narcissism go too far, sparking competition or inciting conflict with her peers. Melody and Manuel inspire her to take a step back, breathe and exercise patience and humility.

Coltrane

“Zwee-be-dee-doo-wop-wa! The name’s Coltrane, coolcats! A musician’s life ain’t always easy, so most mornings you can find me practicin’ an oldie-but-goodie or composin’ a new soulful tune outside the doors of my favorite music school.  If you have any ideas for a song, just change the tune and I’ll follow you!”

Coltrane is the lead singer and saxophonist of local band, “The Crustacean Sensations”.  He’s also a resident street musician at Newton School, waking up the neighborhood every morning with a new song.  Always free-spirited and free-loading he is the picture of a struggling artist who is just waiting for his big break. His two favorite things are playing music and eating free food on his non-existent tab (much to Jyl’s chagrin).

Francisco

“Bienvenidos, chicos! On a scale of A-G, how’s everyone feeling today? A being amazing, adventurous, or awesome and G being grim, grey, or grief-stricken.  Oh, have you heard this one?  What’s the difference between a banjo and an onion? No one cries when you cut up a banjo!  HAM!”

Stylish, quick-witted, and surprising, Francisco is Melody’s magnificent music teacher.  He is exceptionally in tune with his students’ creative and emotional well-being.  He’s usually upbeat, but has no patience for bullies, whiners, or lazy-pants.  While his insights and advice always strike a chord with Melody and his students, his musical jokes and puns often fall flat around his secret-crush Bethany.

Bethany

“Can I help you with something?  A drumkit?  A mouthpiece for a tuba?  Or did you just come in to jam?  Because that’s OK too - I’m always game to sing a little Otis Redding!  In fact it will give me the chance to try out this new didgeridoo that I just got in.”

Bethany is the Be-Bop Music Shop Manager. Sassy and sensible, she is always on hand to teach Melody about a new instrument and give insight into emotional regulation and self-expression.  She takes pride in keeping all her world instruments and sheet music well-organized, but she loses patience when kids and grown-ups tear through her shop.

Jyl

"Who wants one of my famous quarter-note cupcakes?  It’s my secret recipe - a quarter cup of vanilla cake batter, a quarter cup of lemon curd, a quarter cup of buttercream frosting, and a quarter cup of LAAAAAAAAA!!!  B T Dubs, I also love to host impromptu dance parties here, so if you ever need to shake it out, come to the cafe!  I mean, what better way to burn off that cupcake, am I right?!"

The life of the party, Jyl runs the Rock 'N' Roll Café where her music themed snacks are always a hit and she is delighted to take five and dance it out with her customers.  Wild, welcoming, and contagiously energetic, she doesn’t always play by the rules.  This gives us a refreshing perspective from an adult who embraces authenticity, encourages individuality, and sparks joy.

Coltrane

“Zwee-be-dee-doo-wop-wa! The name’s Coltrane, coolcats! A musician’s life ain’t always easy, so most mornings you can find me practicin’ an oldie-but-goodie or composin’ a new soulful tune outside the doors of my favorite music school.  If you have any ideas for a song, just change the tune and I’ll follow you!”

 

Coltrane is the lead singer and saxophonist of local band, “The Crustacean Sensations”.  He’s also a resident street musician at Newton School, waking up the neighborhood every morning with a new song.  Always free-spirited and free-loading he is the picture of a struggling artist who is just waiting for his big break. His two favorite things are playing music and eating free food on his non-existent tab (much to Jyl’s chagrin.)

 

Bruce

“Testing... 1..2...3...there we are, that’s the right balance.  And now let’s just listen…………...…..Did you hear that?  The sound of silence.  Pretty powerful, huh?

Bruce is the super-chill sound engineer at Newton School.  A figure of serenity in a world of ever-changing dynamics, he operates at a slower pace than his compatriots.  While this can frustrate his coworkers, especially when deadlines are involved, everyone knows he gets the job done. A man of few words, Bruce is a perceptive listener and often hears the unspoken truth of the moment.

Bruce

“Testing... 1..2...3...there we are, that’s the right balance.  And now let’s just listen…………...…..Did you hear that?  The sound of silence.  Pretty powerful, huh?”

Bruce is the super-chill sound engineer at Newton School.  A figure of serenity in a world of ever-changing dynamics, he operates at a slower pace than his compatriots.  While this can frustrate his coworkers, especially when deadlines are involved, everyone knows he gets the job done. A man of few words, Bruce is a perceptive listener and often hears the unspoken truth of the moment.

Episode Ideas

"Nervous"

 

Melody is nervous about singing her solo in the afternoon’s recital.

 

Francisco immediately recognizes Melody’s fear and leads the class in “Can-fidence.” This call-and-response song encourages students to let go of self-doubt and visualize success as they move between group-singing and solo-singing.  When Melody is still too scared to sing her solo, Jie-Qi volunteers to sing it for her.  Manuel consoles Melody by telling her that he prefers group-singing where no one notices if you make a mistake.

 

Bethany introduces Melody and Manuel to the trumpet. Addressing Melody’s fear of failure, she demonstrates that everyone makes mistakes; the trick is being able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously.  The kids laugh as Bethany makes flub sounds on the trumpet.  Even Manuel gives it a try.

 

Melody hears Jie-Qi singing her solo at the top of her lungs.  She’s good.  Melody’s nerves return, but Bruce interrupts them, inviting them into the concert hall to watch the final dress rehearsal for “The Big Dive.” This is an Esther Williams-eque swimming spectacle (underscored by Claire de Lune) celebrating the diving skills of several creatures.  One little creature is afraid of diving, but in the end he gains the courage to jump off the high dive in a spectacularly unique way.  The crowd goes wild.

 

Melody sings her solo at the recital embracing a small mistake and recovering with full confidence.  Jie-Qi is up next but she gets tongue-tied. Manuel sees her struggle and steps up to save the day, starting the song with her and then moving back to his place in the choir.

 

Composer Transitions: Debussy comes to life to define how a ‘melody’ can express any type of emotion - joy, sadness, even nervousness. He demonstrates through his composition “Clair De Lune.”

"Silly"

 

Melody, Manuel, and Riley watch a hilarious Spike Jones tribute in the Great Concert Hall and afterwards they won't stop squawking like chickens.

 

In class, Francisco embraces their silliness and invites Jyl to teach them how to calm down through “Decel-your-rando,” a singing and dancing exercise about tempo.  At first it works, but at some point Jyl can’t help herself and becomes a chicken like the kids.  Francisco gives up.  As the class exits, Xavier turns to Francisco, “Kids these days...”

 

After class, Bethany excitedly calls Melody and friends into the shop to show them a brand new axatse (gourd shaker) that just arrived from her cousin in Africa. Melody shakes the instrument too hard, breaking the strings and sending beads flying everywhere. While the kids debate who was responsible, Bethany, clearly upset, interrupts them and asks that they leave the shop so she can clean up all the beads.  They feel awful.

 

Melody, Manuel, and Riley visit Jyl in the cafe.  She explains to them that there is a time and place for every emotion. She hands Melody some string from cake boxes she is tying up and the kids return to Bethany to offer help.  Bethany accepts and they calmly restring the instrument.


Transitions: Rimsky-Korsakov defines “vivace” and demonstrates it through his “Flight of the Bumblebee.” He gets so carried away, he gets stung on the nose.

"Sad"

 

Summer break is upon us.  Melody is sad that she will be saying goodbye to her Newton School friends for a month.  

 

Seeing that Melody is melancholy, Francisco shares that when he’s sad, he likes to listen to sad music.  He describes how minor chords, slower tempos, mimicry of sounds like crying and the intentions of the composer can create sad songs.  They sing “Be Where You Are” which maintains the same melody, but changes from happy to sad and back again.  

 

Melody continues humming the song as she enters the Be Bop Music shop where Bethany is sorrowfully packing up a white rhinestone violin. When Melody asks her what’s wrong, Bethany explains that the violin (a Dolly Parton replica and her personal favorite) has just been sold in the end-of-year sale.  She asks Melody to help her play the instrument one more time to release the past and welcome the future: “Looking Forward To…”  Afterwards they package the instrument together and Bethany asks Melody about her summer plans.  Melody realizes that she’ll have to say goodbye to Bethany too and she quickly ducks out to avoid it.

 

She sneaks into the Great Concert Hall for a quiet moment where she discovers Xavier slumped down in the front row.  He awkwardly communicates that when the school year comes to an end, he feels completely alone.  Melody step ups and tells him that his friends are always with him and that whenever he’s feeling lonely, he could close his eyes and picture his favorite school moments.  They both do so and we’re treated to a musical memory montage in the Great Hall.

 

When they open their eyes, the rest of the kids and the staff have joined them in the Hall for a raucous end-of-session party. The staff present the students with group pictures and everyone (including Melody and Xavier) excitedly make plans to meet during the break.  

Transition - Tomaso Albinoni comes to life to define “adagio” and how slower tempos and string instrumentations can give a sense of melancholy frequently used in balletic pas de deuxs.

Welcome to Newton School of Music!

 

This fantastical world of music soars with surprises: composer busts spring to life with musical trivia, trees of woodwind instruments whistle in the wind, and the sheet music staircase sings each note as students climb to their classes.

 

Francisco’s Classroom

Every episode, Melody and her friends attend a class led by the funkified, free-spirited Francisco.  We sing, play guitar and march to the beat of our own drums!  As music fills the classroom, Melody, her classmates, and audiences-at-home build skills in rhythm, pitch and tempo, all while gaining insight into emotions.

 

Be-Bop Music Shop

Similarly, in each episode, Melody and friends visit the Be-Bop Music Shop. Here, beautiful and brilliant Bethany introduces a new instrument, details its family, construction and mechanics, and invites students to try it.  The instrument ‘cymbalizes’ the emotion of the episode and offers Melody and her peers tools in age-appropriate expression.

The Settings

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Café

This  is Melody’s home base where she grabs a music-themed snack while a composer bust chimes in with a new musical term relevant to her emotion.  The café and it’s surrounding lobby are great places for Melody to hang out with friends and drum up support for how she is feeling.

 

The Great Concert Hall

Every episode is jazzed-up with a live performance in the Great Concert Hall, featuring special guests and a variety of musical genres.  This experience resonates with Melody, offering an imaginative space for her to understand that her emotions are universal and impactful.

"Angry"

 

Melody is angry with her parents because they won't let her go to “The Way Way Back Boys" concert that afternoon since they are visiting family.  What makes it worse is that both Jie-Qi and Manuel get to go. When she walks into school, she fumes past them, “Good for you.”

 

She arrives in class before everyone else and Francisco asks her if she’s going to the concert.  Rather than replying, she wails on the drums in the corner.  Francisco calls out her aggression and leads her in a breathing exercise “Deep Breathes.”  She seems to relax a bit until Jie-Qi enters with a group of kids singing a Way Way Back Boys’ song.  Melody storms out into the hall.

 

Bethany passes by Melody and invites her to the shop to see her singing bowl, a tool she uses for meditation and reflection when she’s angry. She encourages Melody to play the instrument, to lose herself in the repetitive motion and to think about her parents’ perspective.  Melody feels calm until the tour bus arrives outside and crowds of screaming fans drown out the singing bowl.  She is enraged once again.

 

Melody enters the empty Concert Hall where Bruce is doing a soundcheck. She steps up to the mic and screams. Bruce is startled and tells Melody to take it down a level.  She breaks down, and Bruce listens. Afterwards, he suggests that she dialogue with her parents.  Jie-Qi and Manuel have entered during the conversation and tell Melody that they wish she could join them and that they’re sorry they weren’t more sensitive when sharing their excitement.  Melody replies that even though she’s upset that she can’t go, she is still excited for them and expects a full play-by-play of the concert.

 

Melody returns home and talks to her parents about how she feels. They understand but explain how much they’ve been looking forward to this family time, and offer her a ticket to a future concert date.


Transition - Miles Davis and Charles Mingus define and demonstrate ‘musical dialogue’ emphasizing the power of really listening before responding.

"Confused"

 

Melody’s Great Aunt Dana is in town to take her to the sold-out musical A Forest Line. Melody is confused because she has one extra ticket but doesn’t know which friend to invite - Jie-Qi or Manuel.  She’s told them both about the ticket, but hasn’t officially offered it to either.   
 

Before class, Melody explains her problem to Francisco.  He suggests that they investigate which friend is more into musical theatre by teaching the class songs from A Forest Line.  He introduces an ear-training exercise about singing on pitch “One! Singular Pitch...” Jie-Qi and Manuel sing excitedly to show Melody that they deserve to go to the show, but this only exacerbates her confusion.

In the music shop, Bethany is testing a new marimba and tells Melody that sometimes the best way to find clarity is to focus on something else for a moment and then come back to the problem at hand.  Melody starts playing the marimba but, on the high notes, she hears/sees Jie-Qi vying for the ticket and on the low notes, Manuel.  She’s overwhelmed by the thought that in choosing one friend, she’ll be losing another.

She exits to the lobby where Aunt Dana AND Manuel and Jie-Qi await her.  They ask if she’s made a decision yet.  Melody says she doesn’t know what to do because she wants them both to go.  She’s about to toss a coin in the air, when Aunt Dana suggests that they check with the box office for return tickets. She tells them that sometimes your confusion prevents you from seeing the logical solution right in front of your nose.  The box office has nothing available and all are disappointed, when suddenly Coltrane enters with an extra ticket from one of his band members who got a last-minute gig.  In the end, we see Aunt Dana, Melody, Jie-Qi, Manuel and Coltrane watching A Forest Line.  A row of trees in leotards sings in excited hopes they will be chosen for a new forest.​

Transition - Stravinsky comes to life to define “cacophony” and demonstrate the way it can be used in a piece to build confusion as to what’s coming next.