Young People's Symphony - January

The Nashville Symphony does an incredible job preparing educators for a trip to the symphony! On their website you can download the lesson plans and get access to the playlists on the website here:

My biggest encouragement to homeschool families is to listen to the music before attending! Logging in to the NAXOS database isn't difficult by following the directions, but if YouTube is easier, I've been able to find most of the music you can preview here: (There are 8 songs in the playlist - you can open YouTube and scroll through the pieces.)

This is an exciting concert program because we'll hear music from a current composer as well as timeless classics from composers who were influenced by social issues of the day.

The lesson plans are geared toward 3-4 grade but all ages can benefit from learning about the biographical information of the composers and their music! Since I'll have only one lesson with my students I plan to focus on two African American spirituals (Wade in the Water and Oh Freedom.) Once my students are familiar with these two spirituals, we will listen to the corresponding symphonic work that will be performed by the symphony.

If you are teaching your children about Martin Luther King Jr. this week, these lessons perfectly correspond with issues and history.  In the lesson plan packet, look at "Lesson 3" and share the information about the composer's inspiration and her dedication to Martin Luther King Jr.

Preparation for the symphony is also an important lesson for children! Take time to watch some videos on YouTube like this one on how the instruments are grouped on the stage!

Younger students will enjoy this video:

If you're curious on how I plan to teach my class of my own children and the few others that join us on our art/music tutorial, here is the process!

1. Teach the chorus of Wade in the Water by rote and do a rhythm activity ostinato where half the children repeat the chant "wadin' in the water" while the other half sing the chorus. We'll add some unpitched percussion to the activity as well.

2. Add in discussion about Spirituals and give the lyric sheet of the song Wade in the Water and Oh Freedom (click here to download)

3. Listen to both recordings and sing along. Let children discuss the themes and stories in the songs.

4. Compare the Troubled Water listening selection and Oh Freedom listening selection (only on NAXOS)

5. Discuss how through time, our culture has produced amazing music by African American composers. William Grant Still, Florence Price, and W.C. Handy are examples as well as Margaret Bonds and Hailstroke that we already listened to. (Older students should look at the biography sheets in the lesson packet!) Jazz is one genre that was created from the rhythms and culture of African Americans and so much fun to listen to! I'll play the video recording of W.C. Handy playing his song "St. Louis Blues."

If time still allows, I'll play the remaining recordings in the concert program, especially Jessie Montgomery since she is a living composer and have students discuss how her piece is different from W.C. Handy. I expect my kids will want to move around during the Still and Price recordings for their upbeat rhythms! Maybe have your students create some movement activities to go along with these listening selections!

I hope these give you lesson ideas on how to encourage listening before you attend the symphony! For another article about classical music in homeschool, check out my blog
How Do I "Do" Music?
Developing a Relationship with Composers

And don't forget to check out all my composer resources at Composer Study Companion!


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