And just like that, May has arrived! It’s time for our May listening lessons playlist. Each month, I share a playlist you can use in your home or preschool with your children. You can choose songs from the playlist to create listening lessons for the month.
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When choosing songs for the playlist, I like to start by focusing on special days or holidays unique to that month. I also like to feature a musician of the month. I like to mix it up between famous composers and musicians from pop culture.
This month, we say “happy birthday” to the composer Alessandro Scarlatti (May 2nd), Johannes Brahms and Pyotr Tchaikovsky (May 7th) and Irving Berlin (May 11th). If you can’t find a composer you would like to feature, you can always use a favorite musician. I like to use a mix of modern and older musicians in class.
Once I have selected a featured musician/composer of the month, I go through each week, noting important celebrations or holidays. May is teacher appreciation month across the United States. This month, there are a few…
Special Days in May:
- May Day (May 1st)- a celebration of springtime around the world
- May the 4th (May the 4th be with you!)
- Cinco de Mayo (May 5th)
- teacher appreciation day (May 9th, with celebrations all week)
- Mother’s Day (May 14th)
- Memorial Day (May 29th)
May Listening Lessons Playlist
- John Williams- Star Wars: Imperial March
- Camille Saint-Saëns- Carnival of the Animals: Tortoises
- Camille Saint-Saëns- Carnival of the Animals: Fossils
- Leo Delibes- Flower Duet
- Brahms’ Lullaby
- Tchaikovsky- Swan Lake
- Camille Saint-Saëns- Carnival of the Animals: The Elephants
- Brahms-Hungarian Dance No. 5
- Antonín Dvořák- Songs My Mother Taught Me
- Irving Berlin- There’s No Business Like Show Business
Once you have chosen your song, here are some questions to ask to get your children (or students) talking about the music:
- have you heard this song before?
- what kinds of things did you hear?
- did you hear any interesting instruments?
How to do a listening lesson
If you have never done a listening lesson before, check out some of my previous lesson ideas (here’s March’s list). It’s really easy to incorporate listening into your day.
Here are some simple tips for getting started:
*play the piece you’ve selected a few times
The first listening, play the piece once, having your child just listen.
The next listening, you can add background information on the music and the composer
for the last listening, add an activity:
- a listening log/journal
- coloring a picture as they listen
- movement activity or freeze dance
Hopefully, this gives you some fun ways to experience music together over this next month!