Nashville Symphony Young People's Concerts

I'm so glad we are preparing for another Young People's Concert this month!  They are the highlight of our school year and Nashville Symphony always does an excellent job!  You can find their lesson plans on the website, and I also love to share my ideas of how I prepare my own kids for each musical selection with this blog! (No affiliation, just music teacher musings!)

This month, the theme is "Symphony in Space" and our wonderful conductor of the Young People's Concerts will be weaving musical concepts throughout the concepts of a solar system.  I have an idea that maybe the "planets" will have to do with musical concepts?!  The lesson plans given work through instrumentation, rhythm and tempo, and dynamics and many of these pieces work very well in allowing students to experience these concepts through active listening.

Giuseppe Verdi - Overture to La forza del destino

The first number on the program is a great example to highlight the families of the orchestra.  In fact, you can see Nashville's orchestra on this really cool 360 video.  In the first section of the Verdi piece that opens the program, we will hear the low brass, then the melody moves to the strings, then to the woodwinds, and again back to the strings.  There is a lot of "timbre" (pronounced "tam-ber") that can be pointed out for students to differentiate in the sound.
For my own students, I'll have them look at an orchestra seating chart and point when they hear or can identify a member of the 4 main families of instruments (brass, strings, woodwind, percussion.)

Jean Sibelius - Finlandia

This is such a beautiful piece and I love the introduction that Bernstein gives to the performance.  The activities that I plan to do with this piece is to have students imagine that they are on the moon.  There is no gravity so there is no way you can move fast!  We'll go slowly moving our bodies through space in "slow motion."  In the next section a great activity to help the kids imagine is that we will be in a space ship coming into an asteroid shower!  Buckle up and steer clear of the asteroids!
In the chorale section (Be Still My Soul) we will pretend to "paint rainbows" with each phrase. (I will pre-teach this section)
Get back into the space ship for the ride back home!  I'll let them stand up and move around and have their movements match the music's tempo.  We will make our slow descent with the coda!

Felix Mendelssohn - Symphony No. 4, IV. “Saltarello”

This piece is all over the map with dynamics!  I think a fun activity with kids would be to make a paper plate spinner or some kind of dynamic chart where they can move their finger or object on the dynamic level that they hear while listening! (very soft is pp, soft is p, medium soft is mp, medium loud is mf, loud is f, and very loud is ff!)  If I am able to make something and upload I will link later!

Ludwig Van Beethoven - Coriolan Overture, Op. 62

Similarly to the Verdi piece, this intro is so interesting with the amount of long and short sounds with intermittent rests and pauses!  For this activity I plan to let kids move around during the introduction but anytime the music stops they have to freeze! Once we get to the main theme I'll have students move around and then they will sit and pass a ball around the circle while counting the steady beat "1-2-3-4" in their lap and then pass.  When it gets quiet I'll have them quietly roll the ball across the floor to fit the form of the piece. The middle picks back up with the long note and pauses and I will stop the recording at that point.

Johannes Brahms - Arr. Parlow: Hungarian Dance No. 6

Oops!  I linked the piece below and lesson from the wrong Hungarian Dance.  For No. 6 I plan to have students illustrate the story of the Tortise and the Hare.
A section - draw the turtle
B section - draw the hare
C section - draw a cheering crowd
D section - draw an angry crowd
E section - draw the rabbit sleeping

FORM: ABABC(B)C(B)DEABA(faster)B(softer)C(B) "It's the end!"

***below is the original post I made**
I love this piece for fun interactive listening!  Beethoven Wig has a great recording and this lesson is a fun movement activity we would do in my classroom!

Johann Strauss - Tritsch-Tratsch Polka

The final piece is highlighted in movies and cartoons so I think a fun activity to introduce the kids is to teach the dance (visit this link on page 33) and then perform it with a recording.  Watch a fun Tom and Jerry cartoon and listen for the theme!

I just now found this educator resource from the Omaha symphony.  It looks like Nashville has borrowed their great line up!  For more information you can click here.


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