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.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Carnival of the Animals Day 1

Introducing Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns

  • Introduction and Royal March of the Lion
  • Hens and Roosters
  • Wild Asses: Swift Animals
  • Tortoises
  • The Elephant
  • Kangaroos
  • Aquarium
  • Personages with Long Ears
  • The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods
  • Aviary
  • Pianists
  • Fossils
  • The Swan
  • Finale

I always looked forward to this unit each year.  It is an introduction to composition giving children an understanding that music can be used to describe something.  "From the beginning, Saint-Saëns regarded the work as a piece of fun." (Wiki-pedia)  I fully intended that this whole unit would be fun!

I wanted to start by getting the children excited about the music and to not only hear the music but see the instruments.  I chose to start with a video.  Choosing a good video that will engage the children is not always easy.  At the time I was teaching, the best one on the market was a DVD featuring Gary Burkoff.  You can find this one now on You Tube at

As I looked online today, I see there are several options.  I still like the Gary Burkoff version for its integration of live persons, animations, and the orchestration.

There are numerous versions on You Tube.  Feel free to use whichever form you like to introduce the music.  

FYI:  Everyone likes different pieces of music and children are no different.  With that in mind, it has been my experience that not all of these pieces will be entertaining to the children.  That does not mean that I did not use them.  However, it may not be necessary to play an entire piece of music to teach a certain concept. 


Disney Productions included the Introduction in it's 2000 version of Fantasia.  This can be found on You Tube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poz9nZCFmb0

Another older version with the Ogden Nash poems is the Bugs Bunny version:



If you prefer a book rather than video, then you might like this one.  The Carnival of the Animals (Book and CD) Hardcover by Jack Prelutsky  (Author) , Camille Saint-Saens (Creator) , Mary GrandPre (Illustrator)

Jack Prelutsky and Mary GrandPre have teamed up to create a winner.  America’s first Children's Poet Laureate has written all-new verses to accompany the composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals, and the illustrator of the Harry Potter books has turned these rollicking rhymes into a picture-book fun fest. Included is a CD of the music and of Jack Prelutsky reading the verses. A note to parents and teachers by Judith Bachleitner, head of the music department at the prestigious Rudolf Steiner School in New York City, suggests ways preschoolers can act out the music—tromp like an elephant, hop like a kangaroo, glide like a swan—or, for older children, be creatively inspired by this joyful work.

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