Teacher Sign Up
Sign In
Monday Morning Ready08.24.2018
Jumpstart Your Week!

Musical instruments are renowned for their singular sounds. Have you ever been struck by the irony of exhibiting them in glass display cases? If so, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hears you loud and clear. Its recently renovated music galleries include a new audio collection available via gallery listening kiosks and smartphones. Now visitors can enjoy the sounds of instruments on display.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Which musical instruments have you played before? Think about the sounds they make. Which sound did you like the best? Why?

Grade 5-6

Do you think "The Art of Music" is an appropriate title for the Met's new exhibition? Why or why not?

Grade 7-8

Which do you think would be a more valuable learning experience-hearing an audio recording or watching a video of a historic instrument being played? Why?

Grade 9-10

In what ways do you think music has expressed status, identity and spirituality across time and space?

LESSON PLAN
Investigate Music Composers

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, discuss what a music composer is (someone who writes and arranges original musical compositions). Inform students that throughout time, composers have arranged original music in a variety of styles.
  2. Provide a few examples. Tell students that prior to 1400 A.D., there were few instruments. Because of that, early music-like Gregorian chants-was mainly written for the voice. But by the time the Baroque period began 200 years later, composers like Johann Sebastian Bach were writing concertos and sonatas that featured groupings of instruments. These were the first versions of the modern orchestra.
  3. Guide students to recognize that what they may lump together as "classical music" is actually as diverse-if not more so-than the music they listen to today.
  4. Instruct students to conduct research to identify and learn about one classical music composer. Challenge them to also identify and learn about a music composer from today. Encourage students to compare and contrast the composers' lives, careers and bodies of work.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to share what they learned with the class. Challenge them to identify ways to make classical music more popular in mainstream culture today.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
As a class, conduct research to identify several classical and modern music composers. Have students vote to select one composer from each list. Then have the class conduct research to learn about each composer. Divide the class into small groups. Encourage groups to use the information collected to compare and contrast the two composers. Challenge each group to then come up with an idea about how to make classical music more popular in mainstream culture today.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct groups to conduct research to identify several classical and modern music composers. Encourage them to select one composer from each list. Give groups time to conduct research to learn about each composer. Encourage them to then compare and contrast the two composers' lives, careers and bodies of work. Challenge each group to come up with an idea about how to make classical music more popular in mainstream culture today.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to conduct research to learn about one classical composer and one modern music composer. Encourage them to take detailed notes on the composers' lives, careers and bodies of work. Challenge them to explore how factors such as time and location influenced each person's work. Then have students compare and contrast the two composers. Encourage them to use what they learned to come up with an idea that could make classical music more popular in mainstream culture today.
Grades 9-10:
Have students complete the activity in pairs, with one partner investigating a classical composer and the other a modern music composer. Challenge students to delve into the composer's life, career and body of work as well as how cultural and world events at the time may have influenced the music each person created. Instruct partners to compare and contrast their findings. Then encourage them to use what they learned to come up with an idea that could make classical music more popular in mainstream culture today.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
What Does it Mean for Art to Be Relevant?
Does art need to appeal to everyone? Music critic and "National Review" writer Jay Nordlinger shares his thoughts in this article for Smithsonian's Second Opinion conversation.

Classical Music from Smithsonian Folkways
The origins of Western Classical music can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks, who laid down the foundation by establishing music notation and the basic concepts of music theory and terminology. To learn more about classical music—and hear several examples—visit this Smithsonian Folkways site.

Music & Musical Instruments
Invite students to visit this site to explore the National Museum of American History’s music collection, which contains more than 5,000 instruments of American and European heritage.

Mozart, Symphony #40, Beethoven Symphony #5
Share this Smithsonian Folkways recording with students to give them a brief taste of two of the best loved symphonies of all time.

Indian Music and the Sitar
In this Smithsonian Folkways lesson plan students experience traditional Indian music and internalize it by moving to it. Students have the opportunity to listen to, play and dance to sitar music and ragas.

Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn: Jazz Composers
This online exhibit from the National Museum of American History examines how Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn wrote and recorded two of the most celebrated jazz pieces ever written.

A Malaysian Farm is Playing Classical Music to its Chickens
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn to learn more about one company’s plan for producing happier chickens: no drugs, free roaming and a barn filled with Mozart’s tunes.

Was Beethoven’s Metronome Wrong?
Mathematic and musical detectives have discovered that perhaps Beethoven’s tempo was so strange because his metronome was broken. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn more.
ALSO ON TEENTRIBUNE.COM