Today, we’re starting our way through our June playlist (if you missed it, you can check it out here). Our first listening lesson pick comes from the composer Robert Schumann. It’s taken from a set he wrote called Music for Young Children. There are many fun pieces in the set, but today’s listening lesson will focus on The Happy Farmer. This is a perfect song for children, and they will have lots of fun!
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Who is Robert Schumann?
Robert Schumann was a German composer during the Romantic era. He was born on June 8th, 1810. His wife, Clara, was the daughter of his piano teacher. Robert and Clara married in 1840, in spite of objections from her father. Robert composed many piano pieces for Clara, who is considered one of the top pianists from the Romantic Era. Robert was also a talented pianist, but an injury to his hand altered his solo pianist plans.
About the Music- Album for the Young
Robert Schumann composed several short piano pieces for his daughter Marie’s birthday. He added more pieces to it and released it publicly as The Album for the Young in 1848, which included 18 songs for children, as well as 25 songs for “older ones”. One of the pieces is The Happy Farmer. It is a very short piece (about one minute) and allows for plenty of imagination.
Introducing The Happy Farmer
When I do listening lessons with students, I like to begin with having them listen to the chosen song without giving any information. If the song isn’t very long, I’ll play it through in its entirety. If it is longer, I’ll just play a short clip. With younger children, I will sometimes have a movement activity for the initial listening.
After listening to the song once, it’s a good chance to talk about what they’ve heard, and to give some background information about the music. You’ll listen to the song several times.
Here are some questions you can ask to get them thinking about the music:
- Why do you think this is called The Happy Farmer?
- Have you heard this before?
- What do farmers do?
- Is the music fast or slow? Loud or quiet?
- What instrument(s) do you hear?
*move to the music– This is my favorite! Play the music and pass out stuffed animals, or puppets. If you have farm animals, or a farm play set, this would be the perfect time to get those out! You can also have children show different movements farmers might make.
*listening log/SQUILT- you can download a listening log to fill out (The Happy Farmer)
*form activity/listening map– the form of the piece is A A B A’ B A’. You can have children listen to the music to listen for sections that sound the same and sections that sound different. Here’s an entire series of lesson plans on classics for kids you can check out!
*world connection– find Germany on the map to see where Schumann was born.