Term 2 Composers
Many people may not know this, but Copland and Gershwin were both students of Rubin Goldmark. And that Rubin Goldmark was a student of Antonin Dvorak who was a composer we studied last year! The science of relations continues!!!! I find it fascinating that we really don't know much about Rubin Goldmark yet he must have been so talented to have been able to study with Dvorak and in turn share his knowledge to further the growth of Copland and Gershwin!
Definitely take two weeks for each piece of music. These are selections that all students should know and be familiar with! I guarantee that you are going to love the next 12 weeks of classical music!
Aaron CoplandListen to Classics for Kids to learn a little about him here!
1. Appalachian Springread about it (here) and (here)
I am so glad we start with this piece. I am not kidding that it is my favorite classical piece of music. You know how there are those songs that you can't listen to without crying? Copland's Appalachian Spring and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings are my weakness. When the Simple Gift theme begins it's final variation and sets up in what we call "augmentation" where the tempo is stretched to be twice as slow, something just happens in my soul!!! I haven't been too wordy in my posts about composers and the pieces we listen to, but I'm going to go ahead and write a few ideas for younger kids and older kids when listening to this piece.
For younger kids, I love using a listening map.This link has information about the piece as well as a "listening map" that kids can follow while listening for the music. A great picture book to go along with it is here! You should definitely teach your kids the theme and lyrics to Simple Gifts!
For older kids, you could print off this listening map and discuss the instruments that are listed. This also breaks it down with some explanation. I actually don't recommend watching or listening to this until you've had a chance to just listen and experience the music for music's sake at first! Now, since this was written as a ballet, I think it is great to expose kids to the actual work! It's a lot different than what we're used to but it is a huge part of our dance history in America! I also highly recommend older students exploring this website and listening to the amazing Michael Tilson Thomas walk you through the history of Copland and his music!
From the Top has a great show using the music as well (the third video clip.) It's a great show if you want your kids to see other kid musicians!
Finally, the show "Blast!" has a beautiful drum and bugle corp performance of Simple Gifts that you can watch here.
If you'd like to listen to the entire performance of Appalachian Spring instead of just Simple Gifts you can watch here!
2. Rodeoread about it (here) and (here)
Back in the day when I was a kid, you couldn't watch TV without seeing a "Beef. It's what's for dinner." commercial! Kids (and some parents!) don't know that commercial anymore but chances are you've heard Hoedown from Rodeo at some point while watching TV or movies!
For younger kids, I would focus only on the Hoedown movement from Rodeo. It's so much fun! I found an adorable visual listening map here for the form! (watch it!) Get kids moving! I like breaking down the form so that in the "A section" we jump up and pat our legs to the octave motive (maybe I'll do a video with my kids to show you! LOL!) Then in the other themes of the piece we pretend to do chores around a farm. Feed the chickens, milk the cows, etc. and we do all these motions without talking....just listening and moving to the music!
Here's another resource - pages 17-19
For older kids, similar to Appalachian Spring, Rodeo is a ballet but instead of watching all of it, you could focus on just Hoedown and watch clips while reading about the ballet here.
If you want to listen to the entire Rodeo performance watch here.
3. Fanfare for the Common Manread about it (here)
For younger kids there is a youtube video with instruments pictured while listening to the piece. Watch here! I would center this listening activity around the timpani drums and let them try to "drum" on their lap at the same time they hear the drums in the piece.
For older kids, they may enjoy following along with this listening map. Kids older than 10 may enjoy some history mixed in with the lesson as well as you discover the inspriation behind the music. Older kids may also enjoy listening and learning about Copland's inspiration to write "Lincoln's Portrait"
Listen to the Classics for Kids episode on Gershwin here!
1. Rhapsody in Blueread about it (here)
This is a piece that you can't help but tap your toes and feel happy when you listen! That unmistakable clarinet glissando at the beginning always sends shivers up my spine with excitement! If I had gone the route of piano performance, learning the piano part was always on my bucket list! I don't know if I have the time or patience to commit to learning it now! haha! If you read the link above I find it so interesting that we have some connections to Copland (Abraham Lincoln) and also to our artist last year, Whistler! I love when those connections happen!
For younger kids, I do recommend watching the Disney Fantasia animation! I think the storyline and animation fits so well with the feeling of the piece and kids really enjoy it!
For older kids, I would have them listen and see if they can find any sort of reference to trains, subways, transportation, etc. in the music. I love how Gershwin mimicks the sound of a train! For more detail, you can read about the piece here.
2. Porgy and Bessread about it (here)
I think introducing a little bit of information on Gershwin's most popular opera is a great contrast to all the orchestral music we've been listening to this term! Summertime is by far one of the most familiar pieces in choral music and jazz standards! It's been recorded by so many people and so many variations! I think a great lesson for both young kids and older kids is to listen to the original and compare it to some recordings! I've linked my favorites for you below!
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
3. Three Preludes (solo piano)
Ok, this is a selfish choice because I performed these three preludes during one of my recitals in college! I just love each movement and the "blues" sound in many of the chords! I think it also speaks well to the fact that George Gershwin was an accomplished pianist! The success that he had along with his brother for all of their Broadway and show tunes shows how amazing they were as a team, but these three short songs can be enjoyed simply as the piano music that George composed.
For both young students and older students, I would simply enjoy the music! If you have budding pianists, have them watch how the second movement is done with hands opposite! (minute 3:19!)