As June is coming to a close, we’re finishing up our June listening lessons playlist (if you have missed the rest of the series, you can check them out here). Today, we will be exploring another piece by Leroy Anderson, The Syncopated Clock. This piece is always a favorite for the little ones, and it is easily recognizable.
This piece is great for a clocks unit, or just for a fun movement activity.
About the composer:
Leroy Anderson is one of our featured composers for the month. He has two pieces on our June playlist, The Syncopated Clock and The Waltzing Cat. He was an American composer known for his ability to recreate everyday sounds in his music. One of his most recognizable pieces is the Christmas time favorite, Sleigh Ride, which mimics the sounds of a horse driven sleigh riding along.
Quick Facts about The Syncopated Clock
The Syncopated Clock was composed in 1945. Anderson wanted to give the listener the feeling of a clock with unexpected rhythms. The piece uses temple blocks to recreate the tick tock of the clock. It is written in 4/4 time, and begins with a regular ticking pattern a clock would make, but then disrupts the pattern by using unexpected rests, which create the syncopated effect of the clock. The result is a fun listening experience for the listener, as they are taken by surprise. It’s a quick listen, and always a favorite with the little ones!
If you are not sure how to do a listening lesson, you can check out this post. You can also check out my listening lessons pages to fill out.
Here are some other pieces about clocks for comparing and contrasting:
- Viennese Musical Clock, by Zoltan Kodaly (check out this lesson plan from classics for kids)
- Haydn’s Clock Symphony
Vocabulary words to know:
- syncopation/syncopated- rhythm that stresses weak beats
- staccato & legato- choppy (or disconnected) notes versus smooth (connected) notes
- rondo form-a musical theme keeps returning (like A B A or A B A C A)
- rests- beats of silence
- time signature- written as a fraction. Top # is beats/measure, bottom # tells which note equals one beat
Listening map/ listening log– you can give children a paper and tell them the name of the piece before they listen to the music. See if they can draw what they hear during the music. What do they think of when they hear “syncopated clock”, for instance? Older children can fill out a listening log paper
movement activity– you can have so much fun with this piece adding movement! You can add props, like scarves or bean bags, or add instruments like rhythm sticks. See if your children (or students) can come up with a steady beat movement to imitate the clock. One of my favorite classes with my younger classes was from Artie Almeida’s book, Parachutes, Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! ( check out this video recording of the activity )
If you are doing a clock unit, this piece would be the perfect addition! You can find fun clock crafts to make, explore different types of clocks, and learn the nursery rhyme Hickory, Dickory, Dock!
You can check out the other pieces from our June playlist here:
- June listening lessons playlist-see all of the pieces (and access the playlist)
- The Happy Farmer – this short piece by composer Robert Schumann is a great way for children to do creative play!
- The Star Spangled Banner– here are some fun activities you can check out! Perfect for the 4th of July, as well!
- The Waltzing Cat– another fun piece by Leroy Anderson
P. S Stay tuned for our July listening lessons playlist! It will be posted a few days late because of the holiday weekend.