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 seventh 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:
- Hebrides Overture
- William Tell Overture
- The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
- Clair de Lune
- Hungarian Dance No. 5
- Summer from “The Four Seasons”
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’s piece is taking us to the wild, wild west…at least, the classical music version…
Hoedown from “Rodeo”
Aaron Copland is a very American composer. That alone is fun for kids to learn, since most classical composers are from Europe. Unless of course you are reading this and you aren’t American, which I know applies to a few of you – hello international friends! But given that most of you reside in the good ole USA, your kids might enjoy learning about a hometown composer.
Some of Copland’s most famous pieces were composed as part of ballet scores. He was tapped by the likes of legendary choreographers Agnes de Mille and Martha Graham to create music for their new projects, and those are the pieces that have lasted in music history’s memory. And none are more fun that today’s!
Rodeo is a western ballet featuring the age-old story of the ugly duckling girl who beats out all the swans to win the heart of the head cowboy. Hoedown takes place at the end of the story, during a big celebration at the ranch. Give it a listen:
You were certainly tapping your toe a bit there, right? This is a super infectious piece for kids. Introduce them to Copland’s joyful work and then use subject integration to make it come to life even further…
Subject Integration: Hoedown from “Rodeo”
Have fun with cowboy-themed crafts – lots of ideas HERE.
Aaron Copland was born in 1900 in Brooklyn, and he spent much of his life in New York City. Look at this list of 9 notable landmarks and do some research to figure out which ones were around before Copland was born and which ones came later.
Take your kids on a historical tour of the Wild West– lots of fun facts HERE.
If you kids are intrigued by the world of ballet, dive into the fascinating lives of Agnes de Mille and Martha Graham (Graham was the choreographer for Appalachian Spring, another of Copland’s lasting ballet scores).
FILM & LITERATURE
Copland famously composed the score for the 1940 film Our Town, based on the Pulitzer prize winning play by Thornton Wilder. (Fun fact: Wilder is the only person to win the Pulitzer for both drama and fiction.) You can find a plot summary of this great piece of American literature HERE. And you can hear some of Copland’s score HERE.