Music buffs and casual listeners alike can all agree on one thing, without the composers like Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, there would be no Leonard Bernstein, Paul McCartney, Elton John, or any of the other modern composers we’ve come to know and love. Whether or not you regularly tune into the classical genre, take a moment to celebrate its influence this September, during Classical Music Month. Here are a number of ways you can compose a memorable musical month.
PAINTING TO MUSIC – Distribute paint brushes, watercolors, and watercolor paper to participants and play classical music for your group. While the music is playing, encourage participants to paint what comes to their mind as they listen. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is a great piece for this activity. If this is too abstract for some of your members, offer adult coloring pages that portray each season, along with colored pencils, and allow members to choose their favorite season to color.
COMPOSE YOUR THOUGHTS – Set aside time to journal with your group throughout the month. Journaling allows older adults to keep their minds active and alert. Choose a topic for your group to write about and set a timer for 10-15 minutes for the activity. Some topics to get you started are favorite vacations, holiday traditions, learning an instrument, or school days. While participants write, play classical music in the background. End the session by encouraging members to share their thoughts with the group.
MUSICAL MEMORIES – Music has a unique way of triggering vivid memories. Reminisce with your group by playing excerpts of famous classical pieces – Canon in D, Eine Klein Nachtmusik, Ode to Joy, William Tell Overture – and prompt your group to share what memories the songs spark. Check out this website for the ten most well-known classical music pieces, with embedded excerpts.
LISTENER’S CLUB – Start a Listener’s Club at your community and continue it beyond the month of September. During the month of September, feature a different classical music composer each week. Start by sharing a few facts about the composer. Then, share fun facts about their most famous compositions. Listen to each piece, then discuss the emotions or memories that piece evokes. Ask members to identify instruments that they hear as you listen to each selection.
INVITE A LOCAL SYMPHONY – Reach out to your local symphony and invite them to perform at your community. Many larger symphonies often have smaller ensembles that travel to schools or senior communities to perform. Your group would enjoy a rendition of Peter and the Wolf, a symphonic fairy tale in which the narrator tells a story while the ensemble illustrates it through music.
ATTEND A CONCERT – Purchase tickets to your local symphony orchestra and treat your group to an afternoon of live music that they’ll be sure to treasure. Many venues are handicap accessible and even have special seats for those needing assistance. Call in advance to make special arrangements for your group to meet the conductor or a few of the orchestra members.
MUSICAL CUPCAKES – Music lovers will enjoy decorating and eating these cute cupcakes. Bake your favorite cupcakes with your group. Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost with white frosting. Top each cupcake with two mini Oreos for the music notes. Then, use a tube of black frosting to add stems to the music notes.
SCULPT COMPOSERS – Sculpt busts of famous composers using clay or play dough. Find images of Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Handel, or any of your favorite musicians. Print copies for members to use as a model. Members can also sculpt music notes or musical instruments. Play classical music in the background for inspiration.
MUSIC IN THE PARK – Create your own Music in the Park event in the comfort of your community’s courtyard. Plan an outdoor picnic with your dining team as a farewell-to-summer event. Set up tables and chairs and then cover the tables with gingham table cloths. Use mason jars filled with sunflowers as centerpieces. For entertainment, hire a string quartet, trio, or duo, depending on your budget.
NAME THAT TUNE – Challenge your group to a musical trivia game. Grab your stack of classical music CDs to use during this activity. Simply press play on the CD player and play a few seconds of the song for the group. Then, stop the music and encourage participants to call out the name of the song. Play individually, in teams, or as one big group. Give bonus points if they can name the composer. If no one recognizes a piece, ask your group members to make up a name for it.
MATINEE MOVIE – Feature Mr. Holland’s Opus this month. It’s an inspirational movie about a frustrated composer who finds fulfillment in teaching music to high school students. Reach out to your local high school orchestra and invite them to join your group for an intergenerational activity.
GOT RHYTHM – Compose songs with your group using cue cards. Boldly and with large print, write the following words on index cards, one word per card – CLAP, STOMP, SNAP, PAT – for a total of twelve cards per word. Then, shuffle the deck and ask a member to select twelve cards from the deck. Pin the cards to a cork board and prompt participants to follow the cue cards, clapping their hands, stomping their feet, snapping their fingers, and patting their laps to a beat. Repeat this a few times until your group is in sync. Add variation by changing the tempo. Then, take down the cards, shuffle the deck, and play again.
HOST A RECITAL – Is your community conducive for larger groups? Offer the use of the community room to local piano teachers as a place for their students to perform their piano recitals. This is a great way to add intergenerational activities to your calendar. Serve lemonade and cookies afterwards.
CLASSICAL MUSIC TRIVIA
- A typical orchestra has how many groups of related musical instruments: four, five, or six? Four (woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion)
- In an orchestra, in which section are the violins and cellos? Strings
- What is the title of the leader of the orchestra? Conductor
- What tool does a conductor use to direct the orchestra? A baton
- One of Mozart’s most famous piece is Serenade No. 13, also known as “Eine Kleine Nacht-Musik.” What does this title translate to in English? “A Little Night Music”
- Which famous classical music composer went deaf towards the end of his life? Ludwig van Beethoven
- Which instrument would not be found in the brass section of the orchestra: French horn, tuba, or violin? Violin
- Which instrument would not be found in the woodwind section of the orchestra: flute, trombone, or clarinet? Trombone
- Handel’s Messiah was first performed in which Irish city? Dublin
- Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is a spooky-sounding organ piece and is often associated with which October holiday? Halloween
CLASSICAL MUSIC THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Where words fail, music speaks.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen
“Classical Music Month” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2017 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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