Learning Music History with Ludwig Van Beethoven

Here are a few teaching ideas to get your students inspired about the life of Beethoven – one of the most interesting characters to ever put pen to manuscript.

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. Another idea is to write a story about one of his pieces of music, or an event which occurred during his lifetime. 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.

In your lesson plan, plan to hold a class discussion on deafness and share insights on it, after looking at some of the activities below.

Discussion topics:
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)

Here’s a more detailed extension activity:

Research the form of the String Quartet. Use the following questions to get started: What instruments play in a string quartet? How many movements do they generally have? Which other composers wrote string quartets? What are some other interesting facts about string quartets?

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