The most famous Deaf Musician in the classroom

Ludwig Van Beethoven has to be one of the most unusual and interesting characters to ever compose music. Here are a few ideas to help introduce him into your music lesson plans:

Write a short children’s story about the life of Beethoven. Include the most important parts of Beethoven’s life that younger children may be interested in. Alternatively, you could write a story about one event in Beethoven’s life or a story based on one of his pieces of music. 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.

Hold a class discussion on deafness and share insights on it, after looking at some of the activities below.

Some ideas to get you started:

Play some musical instruments that you can touch and feel the vibrations (how do different pitches feel different?) Have you ever felt the ground vibrate when you have been at a rock concert from the sound of the lower instruments?

Listen to some of the music which was written when Beethoven was deaf, including the Moonlight Sonata and the String Quartet No. 13 This piece was included on Voyager’s “Golden Record” it was considered so brilliant.

Experiment singing a song in your mind rather than out loud. Can you “hear” it?

Watch the excerpt from the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus where he tries to communicate the idea of music to his deaf son through lights and color.

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?

Resource List

An excellent site with an overview of Beethoven’s life and music:

Classics for Kids has short radio shows on Beethoven’s life, his symphonies and an entertaining one on musical jokes and stories related to Beethoven.

Art Links

Goya: The Clothed Maja.

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