Beethoven's Birthday – a December Holiday

Yes, in my family, it seems that Beethoven’s birthday is its own little holiday. No, we do not have a party or exchange gifts, but we do remember that on December 16th a most magnificent man, one who changed music forever, was born.

My grandfather was, to say the least, a fan of Beethoven’s music and life. He celebrated the man’s life and found in him a genius with such a life’s story. It is this love and appreciation for music that was passed down to my mother, uncle and, of course to me!

Now, as a teacher, I use Beethoven’s birthday to celebrate the holiday season in a new way. All month we learn about the man and listen to his music. On his birth week, I do a thematic learning approach and try to fit in all things Beethoven in our lessons: from penmanship practice using Beethoven quotes and developing our understanding about fact and opinion using short articles about his life in reading groups to practicing our math using Beethoven-based word problems.

Each year, my classes enjoy this extra attention to a man whose music they know and love. This year I have a class of very interested students who even want to have a mini recital of Beethoven’s music. A handful of students will play excerpts of pieces they know on a variety of instruments. What a fun way to end our 2009 year! I can’t wait.

I never would have imagined that a long, forgotten birthday would have had such potential to keep my students focused and excited all the way to the holiday break. But that seems to be what is happening. I love it!

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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  1. musicalmom says:

    What a great way to filter such great lessons into your daily work. Have you worked learning the themes behind Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” (Beethoven’s ninth) into some of your reading lessons? (“Laufet bruder eure bahn”) includes thoughts about …

  2. admin says:

    We are in the process of publishing a Beethoven ebook. Look for that coming soon this December!

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