As children come to learn more and more about how music is put together, they will begin to have new ears to hear any music. They add critical thinking skills to their musical experiences and will enjoy many kinds of music. They also come to understand and love music as they have hands on experiences creating their own music. They can have that experience through private lessons or by just doing some of the fun lessons that I will share.

The lessons will center on the Elements of Music: Beat, Rhythm, Style, Melody, Expression, Form, Timbre, Harmony, and Texture. You can watch as children become confidant at discussing these elements and hearing them in the music they listen to each day. They will enjoy using these elements to create their own music.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In the Hall of the Mountain King - Edvard Grieg - Lesson 1

This is a wonderful piece of music that kids love.  The very first step in teaching this piece is to tell the story that lies behind it.  The piece is from a suite called The Peer Gynt Suite.  The adult version of the story is much more complicated than this simple version but for young children here is their version.


There once was a little boy named Peer Gynt. He was a bad boy. He stole things, played tricks, and never helped his mother. Everybody hated Peer Gynt. One day, he went to a wedding. There he met the most beautiful girl in the world. He knew the instant he saw her that he was in love. The girl's name was Solveig.

Peer wanted to marry this wonderful girl. But that would not happen because Solveig's parents had heard about Peer and they didn't like him. They told Peer to leave their daughter alone because she would not marry him.

Poor Peer's heart was broken. He knew that he could not stay in the village because seeing Solveig would be too painful to his heart. So he ran from the village and into the mountains where he could be alone forever. But little did Peer know that along his way he would have many adventures.

Here is the first adventure and the story of our piece of music.

I do NOT tell the children how this story ends.  The music will tell them the ending.  I just want to tell enough to set the stage for listening.

Peer Gynt arrived at the hall of the Mountain King. He was then surrounded by many ugly trolls, captured and taken before the king. At first the king is not happy to have an intruder in their kingdom but Peer assured him that he is looking for a new home and perhaps he would be allowed to live there.  The king finds that he likes this young man and suggests that Peer could marry his daughter. She was beautiful but not as pretty as Solveig. The king described what Peer would have to do to marry his daughter. The things he would have to do were: grow a tail, not see the light of day for the rest of his life, and, last but not least, slit his eyes to see the world as a troll does.

That night when he was alone in his bedroom Peer begins to think about the king's plan.  He decides he does not want to become a troll.  But now he has a problem.  How can he say "No" to the king without making him really mad.  He decided he had better sneak out of the mountain right then while it is still dark.

As the music begins you will hear Peer sneaking on his tip toes as quietly as he can.  Listen carefully to this piece of music and see if you can tell me how the story ends.

The children will have all kinds of ideas of what happens as they listen to this very exciting piece of music. When they have exhausted their ideas, you can share how the author ended the story.

Peer tip toes through the halls of the mountains so very quietly but unfortunately there were troll guards along the way who hear him.  A chase begins as Peer frantically tried to escape.  At last the trolls started to surround Peer. He is sure he is going to be captured and turns to face them.  Peer started to step backwards and he heard church bells ringing. When the sounds hit the eardrums of the ugly, hairy trolls, they melted away to never be seen or heard from again.

You might listen again to see if there is a bell there at the end.  They will want to know.  No, there is no bell. When Grieg wrote the music he just let it end with that wonderful big crash!

Here is a good version of the music on youtube.  Don't let the kids "watch" the video.  Just play it so they can use their imaginations.  Afterwards, you might want to watch the video.  Good pictures of Grieg and of his beloved home in Norway.


Another lesson for this same music will follow.

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