Music History Lessons in a fun way – George Frideric Handel

music lesson plans like these ideas are fun to create and fun to do with students:

Today when you hear keyboard music by Handel played, it is usually played on a piano. At the time that this music was performed however pianos had not yet been invented, so keyboard music was generally played on a harpsichord. Do some research on the differences between the two, considering when each instrument was invented, how the sound is produced in each instrument (hitting versus plucking strings), and the different capabilities.

After reviewing the differences between the piano and the harpsichord, listen to recordings of each of these instruments and then discuss the actual differences in sound. You may like to consider the following topics:

What does each of the instruments sound like?
Can you think of any factors in either instrument that may influence the way the music sounds?
Which instruments sound do you prefer?
What do you think Handel would have thought of the piano?
Recently musicians have been seeking to perform baroque music on instruments from the era. Why do you think they would do that?

Handel’s oratorio The Messiah is one of his most well known works. Pretend that you are watching the very first performance ever of this piece. On the way out, you are stopped to be interviewed by the local television news (…just use your imagination!). What would you say? Choose someone to be the interviewer, with a brief introduction and video record the responses of the “audience” members.

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