Teaching any Music History?

If you’re teaching music history your lesson plan can include a few fun ideas like these:

Today when you hear keyboard music by Handel played, it is usually played on a piano. However, pianos were not around in Handel’s day and the music was originally written for an instrument called a harpsichord. Have the students research differences between the instruments, looking at the time when each instrument was invented, and the methods of sound production in each instrument.

You can then find recordings of the two instruments and listen for the differences in sound. You may like to consider the following topics:

What does each of the instruments sound like?
What factors in the instruments make them sound a particular way?
Which instruments sound do you prefer?
Do you think Handel would have liked the piano?
In recent years, there has been a lot of interest in playing baroque and classical music on original instruments. Why do you think this is so?

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. Imagine that after the performance you are stopped by a reporter for the local television news. What would you say? You could choose one student to be the reported, and videotape interviews with “audience” members.

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