I am sick and tired of students telling me they did absolutely nothing in their other classes. Click To Tweet This! So I was motivated by my students lack of higher level thinking to alter my rehearsal plans on Friday. I decided to start class with something fun, interesting, full of educational value, and above all something to make them think! Surprising as it may sound, they really enjoyed it! We discussed music history, used advanced listening skills, higher level reasoning, and much more all in the first 10 minutes of class. This was such a hit with my music classes, I want you to steal my lesson plan! Here’s what I did. Click To Tweet This!
My favorite composer has always been Mozart, and my favorite piece is the Adagio from Serenade No. 10 in Bb Major (K 361) Gran Partita. I primed their pumps by talking a bit about Mozart and how early he started performing and composing. I then played for them this short clip from Amadeus of Salieri describing the first time he heard Mozart’s music.
Yes, that video is a bit cheesy, but it does a good job of telling them what to listen for. Next, I played them this recording from the movie soundtrack of the same piece by Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
I only played about the first minute and a half of the recording. At this point we discussed what the students heard and appreciated about the recording. We talked about the tone (“Does this group have a dark, rich sound or a bright, radiant sound?”) and the overall mood of the piece (“Was this a happy, or sad piece? Why?”) After a very brief discussion, I played this recording of the very same piece, but this time it was performed on period instruments. I told them that these are the instruments Mozart’s musicians would have used, and this is what Mozart would have heard when the piece was originally performed.
After this recording played, I asked them to describe what they heard that was different from the previous recording (you may need to replay the first few seconds of each depending on how attuned your group is to listening.)
And now here are some discussion questions for your and your class.
Discussion Question 1: Which recording did you prefer, the one of modern instruments or period instruments? Why?
Discussion Question 2: We tend to like the way our instruments sound to the way the instruments of Mozart’s time sounded on the recording (at least all of my classes did.) Why?
Discussion Question 3: If Mozart were here with us today, which recording do you think he would prefer? Why?
Discussion Question 4: Should this effect the way we approach playing older music? Why?
I hope you find this useful. Try to work it into your lesson plans some time this week and see if your students have as much fun with it as mine did.
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