Fifth Grade - Music - Lesson 9 - Reformation Music - Luther's Hymn set by Bach

Note to the Teacher

Fourth graders following the BCP/Core curriculum learn about vocal ranges of men's and women's voices (see Fourth Grade, Music Lesson 2). This year, fifth graders will not have had that lesson, so teachers cannot assume prior knowledge. Similarly, naming the lines and spaces in a music staff is part of the music curriculum for Third and Fourth Grade, and so should ultimately be prior knowledge for fifth graders. This year we cannot assume they know this. Obviously, students who are learning to play instruments in or outside of school will have learned these basics in their music lessons.


Recall the names of lines and spaces in music notation.

Sing the Lutheran hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

Listen to a chorale version of Luther's hymn harmonized by J. S. Bach.

Note the names of 4 voice parts for men and women.

Observe that Bach wrote his version of Luther's hymn in 4-part harmony.


Copies of Luther's "Ein feste Burg" from Lesson 7, 1 for each student

Recording of the chorale from J. S. Bach's Cantata Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, see Suggested Recording below

Suggested Recordings

J. S. Bach, Cantatas Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80 & Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147, Naxos CD 8.550642

Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Classical Kids CD 06847-84235-2 or cassette 06847-84235-4

A wonderful introduction to the music and person of Bach in story form with many exerpts of Bach's music well played and woven into the story.

Suggested Books

Student Titles

Bishop, Claire Huchel. Johann Sebastian Bach: Music Giant. Champagne, IL: Garrard Publishing Company, 1972.

A storybook with short chapters, this is an excellent choice for fifth graders to read by themselves. It deals with the role of Martin Luther in the church music of Bach's time as well as the very human problems of Bach's family life as he was growing up.

Krull, Kathleen. Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993.

Krull has written a lighthearted, "upbeat" version of the lives of 20 composers. Kathryn Hewitt's watercolor portraits of each composer reinforces the style; she has painted caricatures that give a kind of quick impression of each of them as a personality, with very large faces and heads, tiny bodies, and all kinds of telling acoutrements surrounding them. Pp. 14-17 are about J. S. Bach.


Bach's Fight For Freedom, Sony Classical Film & Video, SHV 66715, 1995, 53 min.

The Canadians (as in Classical Kids) seem to have a knack for producing films and tapes that combine good classical music and a story. This one uses a spirited boy of 10 or 11 in Bach's time as protagonist and Bach's music as background throughout the film. It gives an excellent picture of the extent to which musician/composers in Austria and Germany in the time of Bach, and into that of Mozart and Haydn, lived as servants to the royal patron whose court they served. Costumes and architecture are authentic, and the acting is good.


Begin the class by drawing the 5-line music staff on the board and placing a treble clef on it. Ask the students what they see (music staff and treble clef sign). Remind the students that they have learned how to write the C-major scale on a music staff . Have one of them draw it on the staff. Then have the students sing the scale, first using the syllables do, re, mi, then the letter names A, B, C and so on. Have a student come up to the board and write in the letter names of the C-major scale under the notes. Then ask: What would happen if we didn't stop at the top C of this scale but kept on going to the top of the music staff? Have someone draw in the 3 notes that would result. And what letters would those notes have? (D, E, F) Tell them: That's correct, in the music alphabet, only the first 7 letters of the alphabet are used, over and over again.

Tell the class: When you sing the scale, the letters always go in order; but in songs for voices and for instruments, the notes skip around a lot. The way that music readers--especially students who play piano, violin, clarinet and other instruments--figure out the names of the notes is by remembering that the lines and spaces of the staff always keep the same letter names. Point to the scale, and ask them to tell you the names of the 5 lines from bottom to top as you point (E, G, B, D, F) and the 4 spaces from bottom to top (F, A, C, E).

Ask them to name them again as you write the letter names of the lines on the board. Tell them the way to remember the names of the lines is to memorize the little sentence

Every Good Boy Does Fine.

The way to remember the names of the spaces (have them tell you the names as you write them on the board) is to remember what they spell, which is? (FACE) (It might be helpful if you use 2 different colors of chalk: one for the names of the lines, and the other for the names of the spaces.)

Next, pass out copies of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and ask who wrote this hymn (Martin Luther). Review a bit with them about the Reformation, the meaning of the term, Luther's role in it, and the importance of writing church music with words in the language of the people. As they look at the music, tell them to look at the two little signs that follow the treble clef, and tell them those signs are called sharps. Ask what line and/or space each falls on (F and C). Say to them: These 2 sharps are an F sharp and a C sharp. (Write the words on the board with their sharp signs.) What comes after the sharp signs? (time or meter signature) What is the time signature? (4/4) What does that mean? (4 beats to the measure, quarter note gets 1 beat) Ask them to tell you what note this hymn begins on (D). Then ask them what note it ends on (D--They will have to figure this out based on what they know so far about the names of the lines and spaces. If they have trouble, count down from the top line, including each line and space until you reach the D that is in the space just under the bottom line.)

Next have them sing the hymn with you in unison, as they learned it in Lesson 7. When they have sung it, tell them they are going to hear the same hymn as it was harmonized by a very famous German Reformation composer named Johann Sebastian Bach. Tell them a little about Bach, and--if at all possible--play at least some of the CD or tape Mr. Bach Comes to Call.

Play the chorale hymn, which is the very last track of the cantata Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott. It will take less than 2 minutes. Ask the students what is different about this version and what they just sang. (They may notice the language difference, German rather than English, and hopefully they will notice different voice parts. Depending on the particular recording, there may also be instruments doubling the voice parts.) Tell them that when Bach wrote hymns and other melodies, he rarely wrote them in unison. Instead he harmonized them. Ask who remembers what harmony means (2 or more different notes sounding at the same time and making sense). Write the term on the board, with its definition. Ask them: How many different voice parts did you hear? (You may have to play it again. There are 4.) Remind them of the many voice parts they heard in Italian Renaissance madrigals (2 to 6 voice parts). Tell them that the most common way to write harmony for different voices is in what is called 4-part harmony. (Write it on the board.)

Tell them that both men and women (or boys and girls) sing in 4-part harmony. There are 2 parts for women and 2 for men. Write on the board:





and ask whether anyone knows what those letters stand for. They are the first letters of the 4 voice parts, going from highest (soprano) to lowest (bass). Fill in the other letters of the words of all 4 parts so that it reads





and tell them the top 2 voice parts are usually sung by women and the next 2 by men. Play the Bach chorale hymn for them one more time, and tell them to listen for the 4 voice parts. Tell them that over the next few years, boys' voices will deepen and they will be able to tell which voice part they will be best suited for, tenor or bass; girls sing either soprano or alto, and the differences will get stronger with age. Say to them: Already there are differences in your voices, and we can investigate their sounds in another lesson--see which are the higher and which the lower voices so you can sing harmony in several parts.

Fifth Grade - Music - Lesson 10 - Mozart's Symphony #40

Note to the Teacher

Students following the BCP/Core curriculum are first exposed to a symphony at the end of Second Grade, when they listen to sections of Beethoven's Symphony #6. In Third Grade they listen to the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony #5, and in Fourth Grade they listen to 2 sections from 2 Haydn symphonies (the "Surprise" and the "Military"). This year's fifth graders will not have had this much exposure, and you will have to take the time to define the term symphony. In addition, although they will have heard bits and pieces of Mozart's music before, they have not had much biographical information about him as yet. This would be a good opportunity to give them that background, especially since there are so many available children's books about him. Finally, the Ingmar Bergman filming of Mozart's Magic Flute is filled with enchantment and would be a wonderful way to increase appreciation and understanding of Mozart's music. The version done on video by Classical Kids is the one disappointment in an otherwise outstanding series.


Listen carefully to sections of Mozart's Symphony #40.

Plot the dynamic and tempo levels of each movement.


Classroom-size map of Europe

Recording of Mozart's Symphony #40, see Suggested Recording

Biographical information about Mozart, see Suggested Books

Scrap paper and pencils

Suggested Books

Student Titles

Downing, Julie. Mozart Tonight. New York: Bradbury Press, 1991.

Illustrated with watercolor paintings by the author, this biographical storybook is told in the first person, through the voice of Mozart himself, looking back on his life.

Isadora, Rachel. Young Mozart. New York: Viking, 1997.

Easily read by 5th graders, this storybook first biography gives them a good sense of how precocious Mozart was--writing music at age 4, before he could read words, and teaching himself to play the violin well enough at age 5 to be sent on a performing tour with his older sister.

Kaufmann, Helen. The Story of Mozart. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1955.

This biography holds up well in spite of its age. It is a chapter book, very accessible, and full of lively dialog that brings Wolfgang and his family to life.

Switzer, Ellen. The Magic of Mozart. New York: Atheneum, 1995.

An extensive biographical section, best suited for reading aloud by the teacher, opens this book. What follows is a group of photographs that show a performance of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute by puppets of the Salzburger Marionettentheater. This includes a telling of the story of the opera as well as interesting brief descriptions of the several different kinds of puppets and marionettes made and manipulated by puppeteers.

Thompson, Wendy. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. New York: Viking, 1990.

Part of a British series called "Composer's World," this book is filled with archival photographs and reproductions of contemporary paintings. This is a good reference book for fifth graders. A carefully marked map shows the routes of Mozart's major performing tours. Also included is a simply written List of Works and a helpful Glossary of Musical Terms relevant to Mozart's compositions.

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, E.D., Jr., ed. What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Delta, 1993.

See, pp. 233 and 234 for helpful information on Mozart, useful for teaching this lesson.

Suggested Recording

W. A. Mozart, Symphony #40 and Symphony #41, CD Naxos 8.550299

Teacher Background

Reading one of the Suggested Books aloud would be a good way for the students to learn about Mozart's life. In the absence of that, check the Hirsch book or tell them some of the following. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg to a family that loved music. Mozart's father Leopold was a composer and violin teacher; Mozart's sister, Nannerl, was a piano prodigy as a child and held promise as a composer until that activity was frowned upon by Leopold. The Archbishop of Salzburg became their patron, enabling both children to travel and perform at an early age. Nannerl was a keyboard player; Wolfgang played both violin and keyboards. They traveled with their father to Paris and London several times when Wolfgang was between 7 and 10 years old, by which time he had already written several compositions.

The next Archbishop of Salzburg was less sympathetic to Mozart, and so he sought patronage elsewhere. In Italy he received commissions for operas; in Germany he found some precarious and brief employment with various patrons who had need of music for church or court. The last ten years of his life were extremely difficult, in spite of the fact that his music had achieved some renown. He was largely without patrons, and supported himself by giving lessons and playing in public as much as possible. He died when he was only 35 years old and was buried in a common pauper's grave, having written some of the most brilliant symphonies, chamber music, operas, and concertos the world had known to date. He was one of the first to write specifically for the piano and for the clarinet as symphonic instruments. (Keyboards up to Mozart's time meant harpsichord, cembalo, organ, or clavichord.)


Begin the class by telling them something about Mozart's life, using a book or some of the information given above. Have someone find Vienna on the map of Europe, which is the place where Mozart spent a great deal of his life and where he died. Be sure they are aware that Mozart and Haydn were contemporaries, although Haydn was 24 years older than Mozart and lived to be a very old man, whereas Mozart died when he was only 35.

Write the word symphony on the board. Ask if anyone can give a definition of that term (a piece of classical music for full orchestra, usually with all 4 families of instruments and usually with 3 or 4 separate sections, called movements). Tell them that Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven are 3 of the most famous composers who developed the form of the symphony: Haydn wrote more than 100, Mozart wrote 41 in his short life, and--in the next century--Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies that were the longest and most complex symphonies anyone had ever written up to that time. Tell them that the symphony they will hear today is Mozart's 40th. (Write Mozart, Symphony #40 on the board.) Say to them: It was written in 1788, just 3 years before Mozart died, and it was his next-to-the-last symphony. Mozart's 40th symphony has 4 movements. (Write 4 movements on the board under Symphony #40. Under that list the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 under one another.)

Tell the students that composers like to make each movement of a symphony have a character all its own. They want us to hear a difference between each of the 4 movements. If you were a composer, what are some of the ways you could make a contrast between 4 different movements of your symphony? (Accept all thoughtful answers.) Tell them that 2 of the main ways that we can contrast things in music is loud and what? (soft) Say to them: Musicians call loud and soft dynamics. (Write the word dynamics on the board.) What is the other contrast you have identified when you've listened to classical pieces before, fast and what? (slow) Say to them: Musicians call those different speeds of music tempo. Write it on the board and add mood. Eventually it should look like this:

Mozart, Symphony #40

4 movements

Dynamics Tempo Mood





Tell the students: In music there are many varieties of tempo and dynamics, but for today we will just use 2 contrasting dynamics, loud and soft, and 2 contrasting tempi, fast and slow. We should all be in agreement about the tempo and the dynamics of each movement of Mozart's 40th symphony, but the last term, mood, is a much more personal category, and each of you may have a different idea about that. Tell them: Some people have said that the first movement sounds "restless," that the last movement sounds "violent" or "feverish" or "breathless." You will each have your own opinions and responses to the mood, and should use your imaginations to discover just what mood the music creates in you.

Have the students take out scrap paper and pencils and copy what is on the board. Tell them you will play all of the first movement (5-6 min.), just the beginning of the second movement, part of the 3rd movement, and all of the last movement (4 min.). (For the second movement, which is extremely slow and takes 8 min. in all, play just enough so that they can have a clear sense of tempo, dynamics and mood--probably 2-3 min. Play about half of the third movement, which should take you about 2 min. Again, they need a clear sense of the character of the movement, but they don't need to hear it all.) Tell them you are not trying to trick them, and will indicate with your fingers when 2, 3, and 4 begin (or stop for a few seconds in between). They are to fill in all three categories for each movement.

After they have listened, compare notes with them and fill in the chart on the board, including some of the suggestions under mood. The first 2 categories should be:

1. Loud Fast

2. Soft Slow

3. Loud Fast

4. Loud(est) Fast(est)

They do not need to have added the superlative degree for the last movement, since we have not asked for it, but it might come out in discussion. (That also depends somewhat on the particular performance and conductor that they hear.) They will probably come up with a wide variety of suggestions under mood, and they should be congratulated for using their imaginations.