Third Grade - Music - Lesson 15 - Holst, The Planets

 Note for the Teacher

The students study the heliocentric model of the universe this month in their science lessons and identify the position and characteristics of the planets (Science Lessons 38, 39 and 40). In their studies of both Greek and Roman mythology they learned about the significance of the stars and planets to scientists and philosophers of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In this lesson, students add the possibility of expressing the symbolic characteristics of three particular planets in music, rather than words.

 Objectives

Recall the names of the planets that revolve about the sun.

Listen to three sections of Gustav Holst's The Planets.

Identify characteristics of Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter as suggested by the music.

Portray these characteristics in visual form while listening to the music.

 Materials

Classroom-size map of the world

Recording of Holst's The Planets, see Suggested Recording
Crayons, colored pencils, and paper for drawing for each student

Suggested Recording

Gustav Holst, The Planets/Suite de Ballet Op. 10, CD Naxos 8.550193

Background for the Teacher

Gustav Holst was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1874 and died in London in 1934. His family was thoroughly musical for several generations before him; his father taught piano lessons. Holst began with the idea of being a concert pianist but had a neuritis in one hand that prevented that ambition. He subsequently switched to trombone, which he played in many orchestras. Holst taught music at various schools in England throughout his life, and his compositions grew out of a desire to make music rather than some overwhelming talent for composition. He wrote a great many choral pieces (both accompanied and a capella) and grew increasingly interested in English folk tunes during the course of his life.

The Planets completed in 1918, is a Suite for Orchestra, with seven sections, each one named for a planet. Holst identifies them as Mars: Bringer of War; Venus: Bringer of Peace; Mercury: Winged Messenger; Jupiter: Bringer of Jollity; Saturn: Bringer of Old Age; Uranus: The Magician; and Neptune: The Mystic. The students will listen to just three sections--Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter.

 Procedure

Remind the students that they have learned a lot about astronomy this month in Science. Ask them to name the nine planets that share our solar system, orbiting around the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto). Tell them that people have always looked at the sky since the most ancient times and observed what was there, how and when it changed, and tried to understand the meanings of those things. Looking at the sky helped people to know things about the seasons, know when to plant crops and how to navigate ships in uncharted waters; they made up names and stories for what they saw.

Tell the students that even after scientists and inventors discovered very specialized equipment for viewing faraway planets and constellations, the old stories and myths were not lost. Writers and musicians, painters and storytellers still think about the rich mythology that has accumulated about the planets.

Say to the students: Today you are going to hear some parts of a whole piece of music that was written about the planets. It was written about 75 years ago by a British composer named Gustav Holst. What country would a British composer come from? (Have someone locate the British Isles, or Great Britain on the world map.) Holst called the whole piece, The Planets, and he wrote it to be played by a regular symphony orchestra. How many families of instruments are in a regular symphony orchestra and what are their names? (4--strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion)

Tell the students a little bit about Holst and then tell them the names the composer gave to the three sections they will hear today: Mars, Bringer of War (6 minutes); Mercury, Winged Messenger (3 minutes); and Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity (7 minutes). Write the names of the three planets, along with the little phrases Holst has given them on the board (helping them to understand that jollity is a kind of old fashioned British word for activity that is a lot of fun) and brainstorm with the students about the attributes and any ideas they bring to the students' minds (for example, Mars and the color red, Mars and the idea of war; Mercury and flying through the air, etc.).

Next, pass out paper and crayons and colored pencils. Allow three pieces of paper for each person. Tell the students you will play the music for them and let them know when a new section begins. The first will be about Mars; the second, Mercury; and the third, Jupiter. They are to listen carefully and draw what they hear, feel, and see in their imaginations from the music. They should write the name of each planet on its picture.

As the music begins, draw a big circle around Mars on the board, and do the same as the other two begin. (You will need to skip over Venus on the CD; that is, Mars is #1, Mercury is #3, and Jupiter is #4. They are clearly marked on the CD.) If there is time when the students have finished listening and drawing, give them a chance to talk about their drawings while showing them to the rest of the class.
 
 

Third Grade - Music - Lesson 16 - Gilbert & Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance

 Objectives

Listen to songs from Gilbert & Sullivan's operetta The Pirates of Penzance.

Recall the definition of opera and hear the musical term operetta.

Note the silly word play utilized by W.S. Gilbert.

Hear a definition of the term patter song.

 Materials

Classroom-size world map

Recording of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, see Suggested Recording

Words to the patter song "I am the very model of a modern Major-General" (attached)

 Suggested Recording

Sir Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert, The Pirates of Penzance (selections), London CD ("Weekend Classics" series) 436292-2

 Suggested Books

Krull, Kathleen. Lives of the Musicians. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993.
In her usual breezy style, Krull tells us anecdotes about Gilbert & Sullivan on pp. 59 through 62.

Langstaff, John, ed. "I Have a Song to Sing, O!": An Introduction to the Songs of Gilbert and Sullivan. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1994.
Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark with guitar chords and piano arrangements by

Brian Holmes, this includes favorites from eight G & S operettas. Two from Pirates are on pp. 60 through 68. Unfortunately, the stories of the operettas are not included in the book.

 Background For Gilbert & Sullivan

Sir Arthur Sullivan, who composed the music for these operettas, was born in London in 1842 and died there in 1900. Sir William Gilbert, the librettist, was born in London in 1836 and died a very wealthy man in Harrow Weald in 1911. Gilbert is the one with the most active and outrageous sense of humor, making up plots and song texts that were a spoof on all the currently fashionable aspects of life in Great Britain--the government, acceptable male and female behavior, the styles of clothing, the class system, and the "make-work" nature of most bureaucratic positions. After Sullivan's death at age 58, Gilbert produced very little work.

Sullivan began his music as a chorister at the Chapel Royal, then won a competition for composition that made him recipient of a Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. Under the terms of the scholarship he was able to continue his musical studies in Leipzig, where he stayed for several years. Upon his return to London, he was immediately successful with music he wrote for Shakespeare's Tempest. He wrote all kinds of music over the years, but none as beloved by the public as the operettas he wrote with W. S. Gilbert.

 Procedure

Write the term opera on the board and ask who can give the class a definition of the word (play in which all or most of the text is sung; orchestra accompanies the actors; music as important as the words). If the students need help, remind them of the opera Hansel and Gretel from First Grade. Tell them that today they will hear some songs from an operetta, which is a term that people use for an opera that always ends happily and makes good fun out of well-known people and situations. An operetta has jokes and a lot of playing with words.

Tell them that usually it takes two people to write an opera or operetta, one to write the words and one to write the music. The operetta whose songs they will hear today was written by two Englishmen nearly a hundred years ago. (Have someone locate England on the world map.) Say to the students: The man who wrote the funny words was named Gilbert; the man who wrote the music, Sullivan. Together they wrote many operettas that became favorites and famous both in England and in the United States. They are so well known that when we talk about the operettas, we call them Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.

Tell the students: The Gilbert & Sullivan operetta they will hear parts of today is called The Pirates of Penzance, Penzance being the name of a seacoast town in England. The whole story is based on a silly confusion of two words: pirate and pilot. (Write them on the board.) When the main character, named Frederic, was a little boy, the nurse who cared for him was told to apprentice him to a pilot, so he could learn to be the man who steers the course of English ships. Instead of pilots, Frederic's nurse, whose name is Ruth, apprenticed him to pirates, and you can imagine some of the silly things that happen as a result.

Tell the students that all Gilbert & Sullivan operettas have a lot of patter songs in them (write the term on the board) and that patter songs are those that fit the greatest number of words into the shortest amount of time. Their tempo is fast and the words are hard to say fast, sort of like, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." Say to them: When you listen to a patter song, remember that actors and actresses have to memorize all the words and all the music, and sing them fast, which is pretty hard with patter songs! You'll hear how important the rhythm is for singing patter songs so the audience has a chance to hear and understand all the words.

The best songs to play for the students are "When the foeman bares his steel," (sung by the Sergeant of the police force, plus choruses of policemen, the Major-General of the Navy, and others) "When a felon's not engaged in his employment," (sung by the Sergeant and all the policemen), and "I am the very model of a modern Major-General" (sung by Major-General Stanley, a chorus of young girls who are his wards, and a chorus of pirates). The latter song is probably the best example of a patter song you could choose, and the students might enjoy hearing you read the words aloud to them before or after they hear the recording of the song. When you read it to them, do it fast, but also with exagerrated pronunciation and rhythm so they can at least hear most of the words and the end-rhymes. If they are interested in all the rhymes, point out how many of the final words in the lines are fabrications, concocted to produce rhymes and puns or jokes.

 1. Major

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral:
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
Chorus
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
Major
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
Chorus
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
He is the very model of a modern Major-General.

2. Major
I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's;
I answer hard acrostics; I've a pretty taste for paradox;
I quote, in elegiacs, all the crimes of Heliogabalus;
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes!
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense, Pinafore!
Chorus
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense, Pinafore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense, Pinafore,
Major
Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
Chorus
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
He is the very model of a modern Major-General.

3. Major
In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin,"
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat,"
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery--
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy--
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat agee--
Chorus
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat agee,
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat agee,
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat agee.

4. Major
For my military knowledge, tho' I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
Chorus
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
He is the very model of a modern Major-General.