Unit 4 Title
Listening to the World

Unit Structure

  • Live Video Conferencing with an ACO musician (20-30 min)
  • Classroom lesson delivered by classroom teacher exploring Unit 4 Classroom Lesson on the website (approx. 45 min)
  • Art activity: Drawing a scene based Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (approx. 45 min)

Student Objectives
By the end of this unit students should

  • Listen to/observe a wide variety of musical and visual art examples
  • Describe/articulate responses to music and art examples
  • Understand how everyday sounds can be transformed into music/art
  • Identify Antonio Vivaldi as the composer of The Four Seasons
  • Identify Ludwig van Beethoven as a composer
  • Be able to name (at least one) of the painters represented in the unit

Classroom Lesson Strategies

  • On the Unit 4 Classroom Lesson page of the website, listen to The Four Seasons Spring first movement (3 minutes) in its entirety. Students must guess what three springtime sounds Vivaldi musically imitates.
  • As time permits, listen to the other musical examples and discuss the musical imitations.
  • Look at all the paintings. Discuss how each one “sounds.”

Classroom Art Activity
Choose a movement of Beethoven Symphony No. 6 to play in the background while the students draw a picture. Read the title of the movement to set the scene.   The picture should reflect the title/mood of the music.

Materials Needed
For Videoconferencing:  none
For Classroom Lesson: Workbook optional
For Art Activity: Paper of any size, pens or pencils, colored pencils, markers, crayons or paint

The Four Seasons: Vivaldi imitates 3 specific things in this movement. Play the following excerpts and ask the students to guess what Vivaldi was trying to imitate. The excerpts and answers are:

  1. :32 – 1:05 Birds
  2. 1:12 – 1:27 A running brook
  3. 1:42 – 2:07 Thunderstorm

When I play this game in person, students usually get birds right away and the other ones are more difficult, so I often make it into a riddle: eg. for brook: It’s something in nature that moves, but it’s not an animal; for thunderstorm: it’s something that happens in the springtime that has to do with weather…

(Here is an interesting lesson plan I also found about The Four Seasons that could be useful if you want to go into more detail.)

In the composition by Heinrich Biber, the violin imitates animals. The timings of each animal in the video are written on the main page to make it easy to skip directly to each animal. Just for fun I also included videos of real animals making their sounds to compare with the violin imitations.

Prokofiev Cinderella: this is the moment in the ballet when the clock is ticking down to midnight. It’s pretty evident in the music!!

Train Sound Composition: This is just a cool piece I found that makes music from the train sounds.

Flight of the Bumblebee: A piece for violin and orchestra that sounds very much like a bee!

Leroy Anderson’s Typewriter Symphony: you might have to explain what a typewriter is!

Paintings: The following paintings all clearly exhibit sounds. Discuss with your students the possible sounds and their characteristics.

Art Activity

Goal: Listen to Symphony No. 6 by Ludwig van Beethoven (nicknamed the Pastoral Symphony) and draw or paint a corresponding landscape.

Beethoven Pastoral Symphony is very evocative of the countryside and also specifically imitates several sounds. For example, a running brook (beginning of the 2nd movement,) birds (2nd movement, 11:30) and a thunderstorm (4th movement).

Materials: Paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers or paint.

Steps: Choose a movement, read the title of the movement to set the scene, and play the music as the students draw.  If it’s a short movement, repeat it as necessary.  Or you can play the whole symphony (40 minutes) and have the children draw 5 different scenes, one to go with each movement.  The music will be playing in the background, the students will draw freely.  They are meant to draw the scene in the countryside that the music describes.

Encourage the students to think about the picture aurally. For instance, if there’s a bee, try to draw it buzzing; a tree – draw it swaying in the wind. Also encourage the students to make the picture correspond to the music – if the students are listening to the thunderstorm movement for example, make sure that they are not drawing a blue sky, sunny day; if they are listening to the second movement, their picture should have a stream running through it, etc… They can also be creative and add things to the drawing that they imagine in the scene.