All of my listening lessons tie into my regular lessons in some way. Sometimes they relate to a rhythmic element, a related pitch or scale, or even form, such as rondo. The very best listening examples have a clear melody the students can sing. Need examples? Certainly.
1. Mozart’s “Allegro” from Symphony no. 1 in Eb begins do mi so so so so so so so so mi do with the rhythms ta ta takadimi takadimi tadi
2. Edvard Grieg’s “Morning Song” from Peer Gynt begins so mi re do re mi so mi re do (all eighth notes)
3. Haydn’s “Andante” from Surprise Symphony no. 94 begins do do mi mi so so mi with the rhythms tadi tadi tadi ta (I use this in kindergarten for movement, in first grade for rhythm, and again in second grade for melody.)
How do I get to the listening from the folk songs? Musical transitions, of course. My students seem to enjoy it when I make a “mistake” from a pattern on the board and they have to identify what I did wrong. Another strong way is to simply change one beat at a time of a reading example from earlier in the lesson. If your students do not know the new concept yet, the students might clap an ostinato while I clap, hum, or play the melody of the listening example.
Learning about the composer doesn’t have to be dull, either. I have three initial ideas to share about this.
1. Use the Fandex Field Guide for composers to show a quick picture of the composer and tell a little about him/her.
2. Prepare two to three paragraphs of information about the composer and make enough copies for half your class. Students pair up. One student reads the first paragraph while the other listens and then tells two facts they remember hearing. The second person reads the next paragraph and the first person must tell two facts. Make sure the person listening is not looking at the paper. Come back as a group, hand in papers, and open the floor for a student-led discussion about the composer. My fifth graders really enjoy this activity!
3. Type out the composer information in sentence segments. Make two sets. Cut these into strips. Laminate. Put a piece of tape on each one and tape one to each student’s back. (Prepare them in advance by taping to the side of your desk.) Students will mill around and tell one another which fact is on their backs. They should try to find the other person with their matching fact. When all pairs are found, they will tell the class their fact from memory. (Every person they come to should read their fact aloud and vice versa, so this should not be a problem.)
Listening examples will be the next category of visual aids I add to the website. Are there any you’d specifically like to see posted?
Do you do anything special to make learning about composers fun and memorable?