Here is a few lesson ideas for learning about the german composer Richard Wagner in the music classroom. His controversial nature makes him interesting to students at high school level. This is just some of the ideas that are contained in our printable music lesson plans series of worksheets.
Here are a few activities to suggest to them:
Imagine you are Wagner and write a short “About Me” profile that may appear in a personal blog. Remember that Wagner was excessively egotistical!
Hold a class discussion/debate on whether Wagner’s music should be performed in places where Jewish people will be present. Here are some topics and questions to consider in your discussion.
The power of music to form associations between events and emotions (can you think of any other examples where music evokes certain emotions because of what we associate it with?)
Should we separate Wagner’s music from his unpleasant character and racism? What about other immoral or unpleasant composers….should we listen to their music?
Hitler used Wagner’s music over 50 years after his death. Should the evil way that another person used his music effect our appreciation of Wagner’s compositions?
For a more detailed study of this topic, a comprehensive discussion can be found here
An extension activity might be to research the plot of one of Wagner’s operas and write it in story form.