One of the first steps in teaching students to understand art music and listening is to acquaint them with the unique characteristics and timbres of orchestral instruments and instrumental families. Students can explore each of these instruments on the Classics for Kids website. Easy navigation tools lead them to information, pictures, and sound clips of each instrument. The site also provides other interactive musical activities including games.
Teacher Enrichment Blog
Part of the art of listening stems from an understanding of not only the elements of music, but of the different types of ensembles that make concert music. Choosing fun, short, and exciting pieces that are relevant to the younger student positively introduces them to the sounds different ensembles create, while planting seeds for interest in participating in these very ensembles beginning in the upper elementary years.
The following links introduce children to Band, Orchestra, Choir, and Percussion Ensemble:
“A Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
STOP! Before reading any further, listen to this piece with your eyes closed using the following link!
What pictures or storylines come to you? What could this piece be about?
Leonard Bernstein remains a true American legend for his excellence in conducting, lecturing, and composition. Ask your late elementary or early middle school students to check out this excerpt from "Mambo". The energetic beat will peak their interest right away! Use the listening questions below to introduce the basic elements of music to the students, and, after they listen to the music "as an event", challenge them to answer the questions.
Piece: Mambo from ‘Westside Story’ by Bernstein
Imagine an exotic place, something very different from your typical environment or homeland, that you have visited either in real life, through a film or book, in art, or other life experience, that intrigues you; lures you. What defines this place for you? Why does it enchant you? What about it most interests you? If it were possible, would you live or work there? How long would you stay? Did the experience of this place permanently change you, your lifestyle, or your hopes for the future?
Geared for Grades 7 and Up
Johann Sebastian Bach Invention No. 13
Welcome to "Listening as an Event"!
How many people today listen to music? Probably almost everyone. How many people today listen to art music as an event -- just pure, unadulterated listening? Many people listen to music while doing other things like working out, cleaning, studying, eating; however, listening to art music, whether live or recorded, as an end in and of itself, (without doing anything else!) is much more limited.