Laurel Oak is going to a Houston Symphony Detective Concert tomorrow!
To prepare for our field trip, we have heard and played many of the orchestral instruments, thanks in part to the Houston Symphony petting zoo, WindSync concert, and visuals from books with audio recordings.
For a visual presentation of an orchestra, I laid out and named pictures of all the instruments. Students were curious to know how many of each instrument make up an orchestra. They learned that there are several of each instruments, and many of each of the string instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass). Several of them wondered why there were no guitars. That’s a special instrument that can play with an orchestra, it’s just not part of one.
Then we listened to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, Opus 46. While we listened to these pieces, I pointed out the different instruments that they could hear: trumpet, violin, French horn, flute, and such. They were impressed by the instrument’s sound and started naming what they heard themselves.
After listening to the music, I told them about the conductor who leads the orchestra. That person stands in the middle and waves the baton to direct the musicians and how to play the music. I taught students the arm movements for fast, slow, loud, soft, and stop. Then we listened to the above pieces and conducted to the music. Students used their arms and had a chance to use the baton as well while working on their listening skills. They loved it!
We talked about the musicians being a community, listening to each other to make music together. It’s just like friends working together in the classroom with the teacher as the conductor.
All the students are excited about our field trip and it is going to be a great new experience!