Thursday night I attended an All-Beethoven concert at the Fraser Performance Studio at the WGBH building in Boston. It was an intimate setting where the radio station was recording a tribute to Beethoven to be aired on his birthday! (It was awesome and I will elaborate in another post.)
So many musical organizations plan for all-Beethoven concerts and my mom and I try to make a couple of these a year. If you don’t know already, my family loves Beethoven: the man and his music. For the last few years of my grandfather’s life, I would even send him a Beethoven birthday card in December. It was our “thing” and when I started teaching, I decided to take that love of Beethoven and fun of celebrating his birthday into the classroom. (In fact, it was through my integration of Beethoven’s music into my 5th grade student teacher that all this Inspired Classroom stuff began!)
I continue to celebrate Beethoven’s birthmonth each year with my students. They love it! We do all sorts of activities: readings and listenings centered around the great composer. One fun thing I have done several years is have our own all-Beethoven recital in class. Based on the idea of the many all-Beethoven concerts I’ve attended, my students are invited and encouraged to prepare a song by Beethoven to perform for the class.
I begin by introducing the idea. More often than not, students already know a piece or two by Beethoven and are excited to share. Some of them take private piano lessons, others are learning songs on the recorder in music class, and others play his themes by ear. In the past I have had students play on the piano, recorder and guitar. I’ve even had a girl create a birthday rap for Beethoven. It was a hit!
Once students are excited about the recital, I set up a sign up sheet where students can write in their names, pieces they wish to perform and instrument they will be playing. Many sign up as individuals and other sign up in duets or small groups. There are always students who don’t sign up, but are still excited to listen!
I emphasize that students need to practice what they plan to perform and make some time available to them to rehearse in school or in front of me before the big day.
On the day of the recital we have a discussion about the importance of the audience. We talk about what it means to be a good audience member: face the performer, have a pleasant look on your face, clap when they are done. We also discuss how to present yourself as a performer and I always have each performer bow while the audience claps. These are great skills for students to practice and understand.
My students and I have this all-Beethoven recital on his birthday, December 16th as part of our all-week celebration as we integrate Beethoven into all areas of our curriculum from reading and math to penmanship and poetry. Consider inviting your principal to attend the recital, the music teacher, parents or other invited guests. You could even prepare such a recital for another class or even the school.
Anytime is a great time to encourage your students to perform for the class. But don’t miss the excuse to have one soon for Beethoven’s birthday this coming Friday!
This is a modified excerpt from my new ebook Celebrating Beethoven in the Classroom. This resource has ideas for listening, literacy, math, penmanship and poetry all centered around Beethoven. If you are a fan of music, you need this for your classroom.