I talk a lot about subject integration here on the blog, and it is a major part of my music curriculum. I believe classical music studied in isolation is way too abstract for young children, and subject integration can be your secret weapon when it comes to making music appreciation meaningful to your kids.
This is the third post in a ten-part series designed to show you how to take a piece of great classical music and use it as a gateway into other subjects. (Find previous posts on the Hebrides Overture and the William Tell Overture.)
Hopefully, by the time school starts next year, I will have tipped your thinking toward how you can incorporate music appreciation into everything else you are doing. Music appreciation will easily slip in and out of your lesson plans and your home will be filled with great music that has stood the test of time.
Today we are heading to Sheba and Israel, by way of England – with an assist from James Bond…
Music Fit for a Queen
Handel’s The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba is a most regal piece, consistently used as background music for scenes of royalty and high culture. You might feel more elegant simply listening to it. Want to give it a try?
Did you bow? Did you curtsy?
Did you begin craving a cup of tea?
Handel composed this piece for his oratorio Solomon, which is based on biblical stories from 1st Kings and 2nd Chronicles. The piece takes place when the Queen of Sheba comes to visit the King, seeking his wisdom. If you thought the title was strange at first, it makes sense now, right? Basically, Handel is setting the scene musically for the arrival of a great monarch. You can certainly hear it in the music!
Ready for a fun story? I did promise you some James Bond…
The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba was featured in the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremonies sequence involving Her Majesty and James Bond. Click HERE for all the fun. Arrival starts about 12 seconds in, segueing to another famous piece from composer George, Music for the Royal Fireworks, at the 1:40 mark. The Brits love their Handel!
Subject Integration: The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Now that you have the back story on this most royal piece of music, let’s bring in some subject integration to make it come alive for your kids. Here are some ideas to get you started…
Try some Role-Playing for younger kids. Have your kids take turns playing the roles of the Queen and Solomon. Invite the Queens come up with difficult questions for the Solomons, and everyone will laugh at how hard or silly the questions turn out to be. Play the music in the background and have a great time in the process.
Read through I Kings 10 for the Bible story behind this piece.
GEOGRAPHY AND CULTURE
But wait – Sheba, where’s Sheba? Where exactly did this Queen arrive from? No one knows for sure, but most people think it was either modern day Ethiopia or Yemen. Find these countries on a map. Use modern Google maps to see how long the journey would take by car, then imagine what it must have been like on camels. Does this bit of information lend perspective to how important a journey this must have been?
And there you have it! Start with a great piece of classical music and veer into all kinds of subjects. Next week we dive into Impressionism and all things French culture!