Nashville Young People's Concert

Spring is always a whirlwind of homeschool events and this year is no exception!  I didn't get a chance to update my blog with brass family suggestions last month, but we were SO happy with the concert and the kids had a blast "wrangling" the notes throughout the concert while learning about each instrument of the brass family!  Last year they did a similar program for percussion.  I wonder what next year will be?!

This week, the theme is "Composers of Hope" and the concert program is filled with wonderful selections!  I have a feeling I may need tissues at this one.

Here are some activities and questions I have spent time discussing with my kids:

Finlandia by Sibelius

Find Finland on a map.  When Sibelius wrote this song he was protesting the oppression that Russia was placing on the country of Finland.  Russia had come to occupy Finland and they were fighting for their freedom.  It is now a musical symbol of pride for the people of Finland who love their country.  The tune is also used in the hymn "Be Still My Soul" that we learned in hymn study 2 years ago!

Symphony 5 by Beethoven


Although the 5th symphony doesn't fit as well with my narrative of Beethoven and Napoleon (see the Eroica symphony for more historical context!) I still used this piece to talk about how Beethoven was proud of Germany and really angry when he found out that Napoleon wanted to take control of his country.  My kids LOVE this piece by Beethoven and we found that marching around pretending to be Napoleon and singing "get out of my way....get out of my way...." fit well with the theme! LOL!  The curriculum guide from the symphony doesn't extend any lesson plans for this piece but it is a great piece to commit to memory!  To fit with the theme of "hope" you could also talk about how even when Beethoven was losing his hearing due to an illness, he continued to persevere and allow music to give his life hope in all circumstances.

Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony

Composers of the late 19th century really shifted into composing "nationalistic" pieces to find the "sound" of certain countries!  It was also popular to travel and go on "grand tours" to places throughout the world and Mendelssohn was inspired when he visited Scotland. He used the orchestra to mimic the sound of the bagpipes and the sounds of Scottish folk songs which use the pentatonic scale (petatonic means 5 notes - Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La).

Amy Beach's Gaelic Symphony

I think a HUGE objective to introduce with this song is the significance of a woman composer! Western music has been dominated by men throughout the years and it is a "hope" for women to also share their gifts and talents in composition!  This piece is also a great selection to compare to the Scottish symphony.  How do the two songs sound similar/different?

John Williams Theme from Schindler's List

Get your tissues.  I don't think this song will ever be played when I don't tear up when I think of the tragedies surrounding World War I and II.  It is very important for our children to know the history of the Jews and to let music speak to our hearts of the morality that was forgotten and ignored by so many people.  And also to pay tribute to the brave men and women who stood up to the wrongs that were committed against the innocent.  This is a tough one to talk about with my 6 and 8 year old.  My main narrative to them will be that when I hear this sad song I think about how sad God was when bad people killed others out of hate.  We are commanded to love and not to hate.  Never let your heart become hardened against the humanity of people of any skin color or religion.

William Grant Still Afro-American Symphony

Along the same thread of the previous song, a short discussion about civil rights is a great place to start with introducing this song!  It is wonderful to know that both men and women and all colors of skin are born to make and write music!  And how wonderful that we live in an age where we can find music composed by all sorts of people!  It is a good thing to celebrate those who paved the way and the composer William Grant Still is one of the first black composers of western classical music.  He was also the first black conductor of a major symphony orchestra!  I'm glad that this concert will end with such an uplifting piece of music!

I hope you enjoy these selections and I hope that your children will enjoy the music in the amazing Schermerhorn Symphony Center!

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