Nashville Young People's Concerts

Our symphony trips are the highlight of the school year and this is year 3 that we are participating!  I'm really excited about the music in this first concert.  The title is "Sound Lab with the Symphony" and will be focusing on the physics of music and sound as well as styles of Classical music.

I always like to blog my ideas and thoughts of how to introduce this music to your kids before you attend and I'm really excited because two of these pieces also have a Loony Tunes cartoon associated with the music!  If you grew up on Loony Tunes like I did you developed an early appreciation for classical music!

For the full lesson plan from NSO click here!

1.  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Procession of the Nobles” from Mlada

This piece is a great introduction to the families of the orchestra.  The piece starts out heavy on the brass family and you can hear specific families throughout the music.  Discuss how brass instruments are played (buzzing) woodwinds (blow) strings (bowed or plucked) and percussion (strike/shake)

2. Ludwig van Beethoven Fidelio Overture

The next two pieces are planned in the NSO guide as a compare/contrast activity.  It's good to note that both the Beethoven and the Márquez pieces are considered "classical" music but the styles are completely different!  There are stylistic differences in the time periods as well as geographical style differences!  The instrument to note in this piece is the French Horn which is part of the brass family!

3. Arturo Márquez Conga del Fuego

This piece contrasts Beethoven because of the style (Latin) and instrumentation (claves, conga) but I do like that you can compare the opening feel to the piece with the big drum accents!

4. Gioachino Rossini "Largo al Factotum” from The Barber of Seville

If your kids love Bugs Bunny as much as mine they will recognize this as the beginning scene of Long Haired Hare!  You can watch the clip below!  To bring this into the style discussion, even opera music is considered "Classical" music and an important genre to know how classically trained vocalists have to understand how to care for their instrument!  A fun "lab" type activity to do is place your hand on your throat and sing high notes and low notes and feel the difference in vibration!

5. Bedrich Smetana "Dance of the Comedians” from The Bartered Bride

This is such a great piece for kids because of its high paced tempo and a great study in musical form! The liner notes from the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra are great to help visualize the characters represented in this music!
We are in a small country town and there is great excitement because a traveling circus has come to town. The comedians are running around trying to get people to come to their show by introducing the other performers. There are acrobats and clowns and a beautiful dancer named Esmeralda all dressed in fancy costumes, and -- watch out -- here comes a ferocious dancing bear! The music is a fast leaping Slavic dance called a skocna (pronounced 'scotch-nab') and it uses all the instruments of the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, trumpet solos and drums especially. Listen to how Smetana creates different musical sections for the acrobats, for the beautiful ballerinas, for the clowns, and even some for the bear, I think.
Here's what happens after this circus music stops. (But, shh, it's a secret...) Suddenly the bear gets loose!! Everyone screams and runs for cover. But the bear doesn't chase them. Instead it reaches up and takes off its head! is "Vashek," a shy young village boy, who has put on the bear costume because he wants to run away and join the circus!
The music is also used on this cartoon of Coyote and Roadrunner!

Fast and Furry-ous (1949) from Mitchy J. Beanson on Vimeo.

6. Mason Bates Mothership

This is a great example of a modern "sound lab" interacting with a symphony!  Your older kids might enjoy listening to this episode about the composer.  Using technology, Bates has composed music for an orchestra and his electronic music!  The combination is really fun to watch!


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