Teaching Music Students Baroque Music

Here are a few ideas you can include if creating a music lesson plan about Baroque composer G.F. Handel.

These days Handel’s keyboard music is most often performed on a piano. However, pianos were not around in Handel’s day and the music was originally written for an instrument called 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?
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?
Recently musicians have been seeking to perform baroque music on instruments from the era. Why do you think they would do that?

One of Handel’s best known works is the oratorio The Messiah. 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? Choose someone to be the interviewer, with a brief introduction and video record the responses of the “audience” members.

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