Showing Students How Classical Music is Relevant to Their Lives ~

When our students hear the words MUSIC APPRECIATION they most likely think “what a snore”. They most often will think this means listening to a lot of lectures and a lot of music they have never heard or will hear again. After all, who wants to sit and listen to someone talk about music of dead composers? Of course, as teachers we believe that just as current events are relevant to us so is the past as it has been part of the evolution that has made us who we are.

Sometimes, we are so busy preparing for the next performance and competition, we forget to talk about the global musical journey. Every great creator of music has studied the creators that lived before them and have been influenced by them in one way or another whether we believe that or not.

Have you thought of sharing an entire Beethoven symphony with your class lately? Why not? Would it require too much preparation time? Is there no room in the schedule? Might the students find it boring? The fine art of listening must be encouraged and cultivated as it’s an important element to our mental and spiritual growth. It’s critical that we help our musicians know how to articulate how the music makes them feel and why. After this, you may find that some of your students will experience classical music in a way they never have and some may be inspired to know more.

You can download entire symphonies from online sources like imslp.org It is worth the time and money to print an orchestral score to share with each of them. After all, it may be the only orchestral score they ever see. It may also be the first in a long line of scores because you have inspired them. All kinds of mental floss can be exercised: really hear the music, conduct a search for which instruments have the primary theme, find where the sudden shifts in harmonic structure and tempo occur. What is the image you have in your mind when you hear this music? How does it make you feel?

Did you know the following scores can be found on imslp.org and downloaded for free?

With score in hand or projected, you can study the overture to Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio. This can also be re-enacted in the classroom or viewed on YouTube. Your class will love it! Even though this opera has been around for a couple of hundred years, your students will find the story line relevant to their life. Since human behavior hasn’t changed much over the course of time, they may well find this story quite amusing while experiencing the exuberant, extreme writing that Beethoven gave us.

Fidelio: 7:05 https://youtu.be/YI-CF_rOApI

There are countless free scores to download from IMSLP.org including:

Mozart Symphony No. 44

Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1

Ives Symphony No. 2

After this great experience, I’m sure your young but mature musicians will want to know more about Beethoven and the other great composers that have contributed to our global musical heritage over the course of time changing all our lives without even realizing it.

Published by

Lynn Swanson

Executive Artistic Director Milwaukee Children's Choir

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