Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Classical" Music for Halloween

I teach in a school where we need to be careful about celebrating certain holidays, especially Halloween.  In my first few years of teaching, I never encountered a problem teaching the good songs like "Skin and Bones" or "Witch, Witch," but I am now teaching in my second school where I need to be very careful of what I teach in October. 

Having said that, I am a firm believer in giving kids exposure to music of all kinds, but especially orchestral music (what non-musical people call "Classical").  There are so many great "classical" pieces out there that I can use in October that aren't all about Halloween!  I can teach so many musical skills and concepts through these pieces - minor modalities, rhythmic patterns, symphonic poems, incidental music, composer profiles, you name it! 

Here are a list of my favorite "Classical" songs that I use in October, but really can be done any time of year:

1. "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg.  There is so much material out there for this piece - lesson plans, listening guides, etc.  This is a fantastic piece for teaching ta and ti-ti (quarter note, paired eighth notes) and tempo!

Some helpful links here: (printable listening map)

And here: (lesson plan and materials for grades K-2) (lesson plan and materials for grades 3-5)

2. "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Seans.  This is really kind of a creepy song, so I really only use it for upper grades. 

Youtube link to creepy 1980s cartoon:

Here are the slides to a PowerPoint presentation you can use (I don't know who made this to give them credit, but it is very well done.  Good job, whoever!)

3. "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" by J.S. Bach.  This is actually required listening for my 3rd graders, and it's the perfect time of year for it!
The kids really enjoy this piece, but I usually only play the first little bit of it.  In the following recording, I usually play until about 2:40.  Supposedly it is the "best version ever" of it :)
This one has the famous "bar graph" score:
And there's always Disney's version - but played by an orchestra insead of an organ:
4. "Night on Bald Mountain" by Modest Mussorgsky.  I remember watching the "Fantasia" version of this growing up, and it gave me nightmares, so be careful with this one.  Great for teaching minor though :)  Side note - I was watching "Wizard of Oz" with my daughter the other day, and noticed they used this piece in the background of the Wicked Witch's castle scene.
5. "Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Paul Dukas.  This is a fun one that I leave in substitute plans sometimes - the kids just really love watching it, especially the Disney version:
6.  Finally, and this one really isn't Halloweeny, but I love it and it is a bit creepy sounding, "Prelude in C# Minor" by Sergei Rachmoninoff.  This is a piece I am practicing right now and just love the way it sounds:

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