Ludwig Van Beethoven has to be one of the most unusual and interesting characters to ever compose music. Here are a few ideas to help introduce him into the music classroom. you can use this as a basis for your music lesson plan for your next music history lesson:
Use Beethoven’s life as the topic for a short children’s story. Include the most important parts of Beethoven’s life that younger children may be interested in. Alternatively, you could write a story about one event in Beethoven’s life or a story based on one of his pieces of music. Research and Download some pictures from the internet.
Beethoven composed most of his most beautiful music during the last portion of his life when he was almost completely deaf. During this time, Beethoven would also often play with a metal rod attached to the piano soundboard that he could bite with his teeth in order to feel the vibrations.
Use some of the suggestions below to explore the issue of deafness and music and then hold a class discussion to share your insights.
Some ideas to get you started:
Play some musical instruments that you can touch and feel the vibrations (how do different pitches feel different?) Have you ever felt the ground vibrate when you have been at a rock concert from the sound of the lower instruments?
Listen to some of the music which was written when Beethoven was deaf, including the Moonlight Sonata and the String Quartet No. 13 This piece was included on Voyager’s “Golden Record” it was considered so brilliant.
Can you “hear” a tune in your head without singing it out loud? Have a class discussion.
Watch the excerpt from the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus where he tries to communicate the idea of music to his deaf son through lights and color.
What would Beethoven and other deaf people have trouble doing or experiencing in everyday life?
What are some ways deaf people compensate for these difficulties?
How do you think Beethoven “heard” the music he was writing and playing?
How can you “hear” music without physically hearing it?
Do you know of any other deaf people who have overcome their disability in any area of endeavor? (See here for a list: http://deafness.about.com/od/articlesandnewsletters/a/famousdeaf.htm)