Second Grade - Music - Lesson 17 - Song


Learn to sing a Shaker song.

Identify Shakers as Christian sect who came to United States for religious freedom.

Note unusual contractions.


Words and music to "Simple Gifts," attached

Pictures of Shaker buildings and implements in books or periodicals

Simple Gifts

Background for Teacher

Pete Seeger sang this old Shaker tune as part of his folk song revival in the 1950s and '60s. At the same time, a journalist named Sydney Carter, who had made a name for himself singing religious protest songs, put new words to the tune, which then became popular as "Lord of the Dance." Those words are:

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,

And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,

And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,

At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be;

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,

And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

The song with its original words (see below) comes from the Shakers, a sect of Second Adventists, founded in the 18th century in England as a group that split off from the Quakers, though they shared some Quaker beliefs, such as pacifism. The Shakers came to the United States under the leadership of "Mother Ann" Lee who lived from 1736 to 1784. The official name of the group was "The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing." The name Shaker was a derogatory term that made fun of the kind of ecstatic movement that members of the group sometimes exhibited as they participated in their religious rituals, in which dance was the predominant feature.

The tune itself was labelled a "Quick Dance" in several Quaker manuscripts of the 1840s. Aaron Copland, the American 20th-century composer, especially renowned for his music for the ballet, found the tune in a book about Shakers and used it as a theme for variations in the seventh section of his Appalachian Spring. This was a ballet that portrayed pioneer life in Pennsylvania and was first danced in 1944 and subsequently won both a Pulitzer and a New York Music Critics' Award the following year. The ballet and its music did a lot to make the tune well-known around the world, although Copland has since said somewhat apologetically that he didn't know until after all the music had been written and choreographed that there were never any Shaker settlements in rural Pennsylvania!


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 17 - Song


Tell the children a little bit about the Shakers as a religious community who came to this country, like the Pilgrims and Puritans, for religious freedom shortly before the time of our Civil War. They should know how unusual it was for a religious group to concentrate on dance as an important part of their worship, and they may want to discuss that further.

This is a good song to put on the overhead, so that the children can follow the notes and the words. They have probably heard the tune before and should have no trouble learning it. Discuss any vocabulary unfamiliar to them, especially the contractions such as 'tis for It is, or our own contraction it's, which is characteristic of both Quaker and Shaker speech of the 19th century. Talk about the use of the words simple and gift in this context, which they may not have heard before.

The song lends itself to being sung while standing in a circle, where the children can act out the words gracefully, turning in place, bowing and bending as the words themselves indicate, finally turning in the circle once to come back to their original places.

'Tis the gift to be simple,'Tis the gift to be free.

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 17 - Song


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 18 - Beethoven Symphony


Listen carefully to sections of a symphony.

Identify that a symphony is played by an orchestra.

Identify the conductor of the orchestra with the name maestro.

Relate orchestral instruments to those in Britten's Young People's Guide to the Orchestra.

Identify Beethoven as classical composer of symphonies.


Classroom size world map or map of Europe

Pictures of families of instruments and individual instruments

Recording of Beethoven's Symphony #6 (Pastoral), see Suggested Recordings below

Approximate listening times for the movements are: I - 9 to 10 min.; II - 13 to 15 min.;

III - 5 to 6 min.; IV - 4 to 5 min.; V- 12 to 15 min.

Information about the life of Beethoven, see below

Suggested Books

Blackwood, Alan. Beethoven. New York: The Bookwright Press, 1987.

Richard Hook's illustrations are bland, but the text is excellent, giving as much musical as strictly biographical information in terms children can understand. Can be read aloud and also includes a useful glossary plus a chronology of major events and compositions in the composer's life.

Greene, Carol. Ludwig van Beethoven: Musical Pioneer. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1989.

Text is even simpler than Blackwood's in this biography. Good for reading aloud but not much emphasis on Beethoven's music. A very brief chronology is included.

Nichol, Barbara. Beethoven Lives Upstairs. New York: Orchard Books, 1993.

Nichols is the author and director of the original CD/cassette Beethoven Lives Upstairs made by Classical Kids which was recommended at the beginning of the year. This book version, illustrated with paintings by Scott Cameron, is composed mainly of several fictitious letters apparently written by a young boy whose widowed mother takes Beethoven in as a tenant in their house. It is a wonderful book to read aloud; it may take more than one period to complete the book, but it would work well if the lesson were divided in half.

Suggested Recording

As is usual, the least expensive recording of Beethoven's 6th Symphony (The Pastoral) is by Naxos (CD 8.550179) This recording is played by the CSR Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Halasz, and includes Beethoven's 1st Symphony as well.

Additional Resources

Fantasia, Walt Disney Home Video

A classic for presenting orchestral music to children with the addition of memorable visual (animated) interpretation. Includes many selections the children will have heard following Core Knowledge First and Second Grade Music Curriculum, such as The Nutcracker, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and the subject of today's lesson, Beethoven's 6th Symphony.


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 18 - Beethoven Symphony

Background for Teacher

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1770 and died in Vienna in 1827. His life is commonly divided into three distinct periods. For the first, ending in 1800, he is known primarily as an accomplished pianist, and as a composer he is known as a student of the music of Mozart and Haydn, which you can hear stylistically in his compositions from that period.

The second period of Beethoven's compositional life was incredibly productive, intensified by the onset of ever-increasing deafness. During this period, he produced his first six symphonies

(including the Pastoral the children will listen to today), the Waldstein and Appassionata piano sonatas, the opera Fidelio, the Rasumovsky string quartets, the violin concerto, and the fourth and fifth piano concertos. In all of these works, we hear Beethoven's originality. His music now sounds unlike anyone else's, and he incorporates passionate feelings, word painting, and deeply held ideals in classical forms such as the symphony, which had never been done before.

The music from the third period of Beethoven's compositional life, beginning around the year 1817, is even more revolutionary, but characterized by a more inward and nearly mystical expression. The late string quartets, the last piano sonatas, the ninth symphony, and the great mass Missa Solemnis date from this period. The last two in particular combine the use of chorus and greatly expanded orchestra in a way that had never been heard before. Beethoven himself was totally deaf during this period of his life and consequently heard these monumental pieces only inside his own head.

The Sixth Symphony, opus 68, was composed in 1808. It is the only symphony for which Beethoven wrote descriptive titles for each of the movements. All of the movements express the composer's profound love and respect for nature, and--as you play a few of the suggested sections for the students--be sure to tell them the descriptions Beethoven gave to them.


Remind the students of the piece they heard back in the fall that introduced them to the instruments of the orchestra. Ask: Does anyone remember the name of that piece? (Britten's Young People's Guide to the Orchestra) Briefly review with the children the four families of instruments (strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion) and the characteristic way each family produces its sounds (strings--strings vibrate when bowed or plucked, woodwinds--air blown through reed(s) into column, brass--air blown through mouthpiece into varying lengths of metal tubing, percussion--various instruments struck with hands, sticks, hammers) As you discuss each family, show pictures of individual instruments from books (see Suggested Books in Lesson ?) to

remind the children of their appearance.

If you have pictures of the typical seating arrangement of a symphony orchestra, this would be a good time to show it to the students, and once more point out that the players are arranged within their families if instruments. Say: The name we give to all these musicians playing together is symphony orchestra. (Have the children repeat the name with and without you.) Could anyone guess why we give them that name? If no one knows, say: We call this a symphony orchestra because, for hundreds of years, classical composers with names like Mozart and Haydn, Schumann, Brahms, and Berlioz wrote long, large pieces of music which they called symphonies, and they were written to be played by a large group of musicians arranged in their instrument families just the way they are in the picture we just looked at. In the very center, BCP DRAFT MUS 57

Second Grade - Music - Lesson 18 - Beethoven Symphony

standing on a raised platform called a podium, is the conductor. Can you guess why the conductor was placed that way? (so every musician in the symphony orchestra could see him) Tell the students that nowadays there are women conductors as well as men, but until about 25 years ago, conductors were always men.

Say: The conductor of the orchestra has a very special name, which is maestro. That is an Italian word related to our word master. Who can guess why everyone calls the conductor of a symphony orchestra maestro? (tells them when to start and stop, whether to play fast or slow, loud or soft)

Say: Today we are going to listen to some parts of a symphony by a great composer of classical music who was born more than 225 years ago in Germany, which is a country on the

continent of Europe, in the northern part. Can someone find it on the map? This man whose name is Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Germany. What would we call people born and raised in Germany? (Germans) Tell the children some information about Beethoven's life and musicmaking. If you have access to one of the biographies suggested above, this would be a good time to read it. Be sure to tell them that Beethoven wrote nine symphonies altogether, and that each symphony always has several different parts: usually three, but it could also be four, or even five.

Say: The symphony we will hear parts of today is Beethoven's 6th Symphony. Usually when composers write the parts of a symphony they give each a short name that tells about tempo (fast or slow) or a musical term like Minuet, that tells us something about how that section of the music will be played, but for his 6th Symphony Beethoven wrote five different parts and named each of them with a description from nature that describes what we can listen for in the music.Tell the children the names of the five movements and write them on the board as you tell them:

I Awakening of pleasant feelings upon arriving in the country

II Scene at the Brook

III Peasants' Merrymaking

IV The Storm

V Shepherd's Hymn after the Storm

Discuss any vocabulary and/or phrases that may need clarifying for the children and brainstorm with them about the kinds of things these descriptions bring to mind and what they might be telling us to listen for in these sections. For example, in the first, you might ask: If we all took a bus right now, in the springtime, out of the city of Baltimore, into the countryside, what sounds could we expect to hear when we get out of the bus and stretch out quietly in a pasture or in the woods? (many different bird calls; rustling in leaves of birds, rabbits, or snakes; sound of a brook or gentle breezes; accept any reasonable answer)

Play the opening of the 1st movement for the children--about the first five minutes will be sufficient--then stop and have them identify what family of instruments plays the opening melody, or theme (strings) and which instruments then plays the same melody as a solo (oboe). Play the opening five minutes a second time to reinforce the melody, then see whether they can sing the melody with you.

Omit the 2nd and 3rd movements, and play next for the students "The Storm" or 4th movement, making sure you get its very beginning, since in most recordings the drama of the sudden breaking of the storm is achieved by running the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th movements together. (You may have to play a few seconds of the 3rd movement in order to get BCP DRAFT MUS 58

Second Grade - Music - Lesson 18 - Beethoven Symphony

the very beginning of the storm.) Tell the children to listen for the deep double basses and the scary tympani that makes us think of the sounds of rumbling winds and thunder.

Finally, play the last movement for the children (reminding them of its descriptive title which you have written on the board). Tell them they should be listening for the special melody, or theme, that Beethoven plays with all through this last part, over and over again, appearing in different families of instruments with little changes and developments each time. Say: Listen for the melody in the strings being played with bows, then also being played while others in the string family pluck their strings (pizzicato). Listen for it also in the French horn of the brass family. At the end, see whether they can sing a simple version of this melody with you, as they did with the melody of the 1st movement.


Utilize the 5th movement of the symphony to illustrate the constantly shifting dynamic levels of the piece. Divide the class in half and tell the students that one half will stand when the music is soft and sit when it is getting louder; the other will stand when the music is loud and sit as it is getting softer. Make sure they understand that these are called the dynamics of the piece, and that all composers change the dynamics in their compositions to make the music more interesting and varied for the musicians and listeners.

Play the last movement and see what happens! The students will probably be exuberant, and there may be some confusion at first, with a certain amount of overlap as the music is in the process of getting louder or softer, but they will soon catch on and should enjoy the activity while learning to listen for dynamics in pieces of music.