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Fun with the Big Three

I am teaching Middle School Choir and I want to give the kids more than a singer's skills - I want them to be musicians. We are doing rhythms, technique, and so on. And, I want to introduce them to, at bare minimum, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. I plan to spend a week on each, and I want to end on something fun, but related.
Mozart is easy - The Rabbit of Seville is just perfect.
But, what about Bach and Beethoven? I thought of (Lord help me!) Bill and Ted, but there isn't a lot of content there, really. So, any suggestions for fun videos or content that middle schoolers may enjoy, or at least not hate? :)
on January 26, 2016 12:31pm
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Rabbit of Seville uses Rossini's overture from Barber of Seville.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on February 28, 2016 5:42am
Hello,  There are DVD's created on the composers:  "Beethoven Lives Upstairs",   also "Immortal Beloved"  Some excerpts are on youtube.  "Immortal Beloved" has compelling scenes of Beethoven's deafness and how it was manifested in public.  Beware, there are some nude scenes in this movie as well.  "Amadeus"  also has great scenes on the life of Mozart, althought not always true to historic fact.     For Bach search yotube for excerpts on his life which might be appropriate for the age group you are teaching.    You will need to preview, as some scenes are too adult or too cerebral for young viewers, but a few well chosen scenes may serve you well.
Also check out  Bach's Fight for Freedom.   This could be too juvenile, but may have some pertinent scenes if you prepare your class with historic context.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 29, 2016 11:36am
Along with "Beethoven Lives Upstairs" there is also a movie entitled, "Bach's Fight for Freedom" from the same production company.
on March 1, 2016 4:35pm
Bach's Fight for Freedom is always enjoyed by my 5th and 6th graders.  Be sure to tie this to the founding of the USA--self-determination and freedom from the petty and dictatorial royals. Others from this production company: Liszt's Rhapsody (Liszt and Gypsy music; Liszt as the first "rock star"),  Handel's Last Chance (musical tastes have changed, but Messiah triumphs) and Strauss, the King of Three Quarter Time (follows Strauss as he composes Tales from the Vienna Woods).  I think there's also one about Puccini
These are very well made productions, in which an incident in the life of the composer is recreated, entertwined with a fictional subplot involving a child.  Using two or more of these together gives a good portrayal of the changing circumstances of composers and musicians over time; for example Bach and Handel versus Strauss and Liszt.
on March 2, 2016 1:46pm
What about the Coffee Cantata?
on March 3, 2016 7:01am
on March 4, 2016 7:01am
The mention of the "Barber of Seville" reminded me of this a cappella performance.  ...which is pretty fun, and virtuostic.
on March 5, 2016 10:14am
This is a funny post to me, as I just finished my Beethoven Week, which had a Bach and Mozart set before it. And, I had the same questions.
I came up with as many interesting videos as I could. A few times, I could not come up with a video I liked for a piece I really wanted to play, but I knew I would lost their attention if I just had them listen. So, I passed out a topical word search sheet and told them to listen, and work on it at the same time.
Here are some of the things I used:
I started each with a biography video, a short one. It seems that they will pay more attention to a video than me, so here are the ones I used.
If I found music I liked, but no video, sometimes I used it as passing music. This might not work for you, but I played it between classes, so kids heard it going out and coming in. I used this one for Bach: Hooked on Bach
My favorite Bach videos are these:
Cold and Fugue Season - a choral setting of The Little Fugue in G Minor. Because the text is half the fun, I projected that, too, a la opera.
The Little Fugue in G Minor, played on Saxophones by the US Army Field Band
(I think you can tell I love the Little Fugue)
For Mozart:
I played them a pair of performed arias. The first is from the Marriage of Figaro.
The second, and the favorite, is from the Magic Flute. Many recognized this tune, and the video is very dramatic.
For Beethoven:
I am a fan of TSO, so I played the overture to Beethoven's Last Night as passing music.
Later, I did the same with A 5th of Beethoven
They enjoyed the Ode to Joy flash mob video, and many were familiar with it.
Some of my classes also go to watch this video. It is New Horizons in Music Education, by Pete Schickele (AKA PDQ Bach), and crosses sports commentary with Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Some of the kids adored it, and others hated it, and it is a long one, so keep that in mind!
Oddly enough, while the most loved, known, and enjoyed music of Beethoven are his piano sonatas, they liked listening to those the least. After one class, I did not play any others.
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