Nashville YPC - American Music


#composerstudy at the Symphony!

A photo posted by RaeAnna Goss (@sewingmamaraeanna) on

This blog post is for my fellow Middle Tennessee friends that may be attending the Young People's Concert this week!  I wish I had thought of putting together something sooner!!!  We LOVED the program last week and I introduced these songs to my kids with a little bit of background before we attended and I felt that it made the experience even that much richer! First of all, there are wonderful lesson plans posted by the symphony - you can download the current file here The Nashville Symphony also has a great introduction video to watch about concert etiquette and instrument families!     The program on Friday moves quickly from one piece to the next so there's not a lot of background information on the piece or the composer - if you can take the time to review highlights before you go I think it makes the experience so much more fun!!!  Here's the order, a little tidbit to share with your kids, and a video of the song to listen before you go!


Leonard Bernstein is one of my favorite composers and conductors because he just exudes music and a passion for music!  If you've never watched him talk about music to a group of kids you need to look up the old recordings from his YPC in the 1950s!  (Don't do it now, but when you have extra time you can check them out here!)  What you need to know about Bernstein, is that he was an amazing conductor as well as composer.  He was born and raised in America and his music reflects many American themes.  The Candide overture is filled with excitement and a lot of dynamic changes (loud to soft) and there are a few instruments that stand out!  When I played the recording I asked my kids to listen for any changes in dynamics (loud and soft) and moods.  When it sounds like you're at a circus, have fun pretending to be a clown!  When the music gets smooth and softer, pretend to be a trapeze artist flying gracefully through the air!  Point out the piccolo instrument (minute 1:15-1:18) - listen to the high notes it makes!  It is a member of the woodwind family and is smaller than a flute.


John Philip Sousa is best known for all his marches!!!  Personally, I can only handle 1 or 2 of his marches at a time! LOL!  Sousa is not my favorite composer but his music is fun!  A fun fact for your kids to know is that he came up with an idea for a portable tuba and had an inventor create a tuba that wrapped around the body!  It's named after him - called the Sousaphone! It was so his musicians could easily play their tubas at all the outdoor events and marches! The Liberty Bell March is what you'll hear this week. The instrument to look out for is the Tubular Bells - also in the percussion section!  


Aaron Copland is one of the most recognized composers of American sounding music - especially music that sounds like it's from the wild west!  Rodeo is a ballet in 5 sections.  Buckaroo Holiday is the first section and the one you'll hear performed!  What you need to know about Copland is that he studied under Rubin Goldmark who was a student of Antonin Dvorak.  American classical music was VERRRYY new at this time!  Most classical music was composed and performed by Europeans.  America truly has a voice now in symphonic music with the work by Copland! When I played this song for the kids I had them pretend they were cowboys.  During fast sections they rode their horses, during slow sections they got off their saddles for a nap!  Pay attention to the percussion section when you're at the symphony and look for the slapstick (time around 2:20)!   My son pretended that was the cowboy firing off his shots! (The ballet is actually the cowgirl in this movement!)


George Gershwin is also known for having a very American sound in his compositions. He used a lot of jazz influences in his pieces. The NSO will do a few selections from Porgy and Bess - starting with Summertime.  What you should know about George, is that he and his brother Ira worked close together for many compositions! The other piece is Cuban Overture - with this song I had my kids try to tap out the rhythm that the claves play (ONE and two AND three and FOUR and one and TWO and THREE and four and)


Steve Reich is a minimalist American composer. Clapping Music is a simple rhythm that is performed in two groups, where each group starts together and then they move apart and eventually circle around back to unison. This video is a great visual! The last song is by John Williams - I'm not going to spoil it for you!!!  I know your kids will have a super fun time!!!


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