A good composer study combines information about the subject’s life and context with analysis and appreciation of his or her music. Sometimes composer studies can become so fact-oriented that the music takes a back seat, but kids need opportunities to listen to, enjoy, and discuss a featured composer’s works. Students do need an overview of when and where a composer worked and what contributions make that composer important, though. To strike a good balance, consider how much biographical and historical information is necessary to meet your learning objectives, making sure they spend time with both the composer and their works.
Below, you will find lesson plan resources for a study of Ludwig van Beethoven that addresses both his remarkable life and his immortal music. There’s probably little need to explain why Beethoven is worth learning about, so let’s jump in to the resources.
Beethoven’s Life and Times
You may be interested in studying Beethoven as part of a “composer of the month” program, where a new composer is featured each month. If so, the Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Pack provides a visual feature of the composer. Even if you aren’t studying Beethoven as a composer of the month, the visuals could still set the stage and enhance your study.
A simple Beethoven Biography provides an accessible one-page introduction to the composer’s life and accomplishments. If you’d like to include more in-depth study of Beethoven’s context, early life or career, this biography could provide a good starting point from which students can generate questions for further research. Those looking to dig in deeper might also use Beethoven Research Activity Sheets from Music Teacher Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.
To review key facts from the composers life, the Beethoven Word Search tests students’ critical reading skills. The word search doesn’t come with a word list– instead, students must determine key words from the biography and search for them to see if they are correct. Kids can also apply their knowledge of a composer’s experiences by completing the Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet.
The options for introducing students to Beethoven’s work are many. A number of his works appeal to kids, including his instantly recognizable Fifth Symphony, the uplifting “Ode to Joy,” or the darker “Fur Elise” or “Moonlight Sonata.” To guide students in purposeful listening, use a variety of prompts and activities.
Listening glyphs are excellent tools for guiding students as they encounter a new piece. Beethoven Listening Glyphs from Trinity Music at TpT include glyphs for five well-known Beethoven works along with blank glyphs in case for any other of his music you’d like to include. For more music response options, consider this Listening Worksheet Bundle, with 30 different worksheets for grade levels K-12.Beethoven Music Listening Journals from Mrs. Krafts Music Creation also prompts kids to make record factual observations, reactions, and opinions on great Beethoven works. For something a little different, the Moving with Beethoven Bundle from The Yellow Brick Road on TpT uses Beethoven’s music to teach and review specific musical concepts through movement.
For more inspiration, visit MakingMusicFun.net’s Beethoven Lesson Resources. It includes possible writing prompts, sheet music for easy piano and several other insruments, and other ideas for your Beethoven study. It also links to Beethoven Multiplication-Connect-the-Dot and Beethoven Coloring Page. If you take the suggestion of watching Beethoven Lives Upstairs, you may find this Movie Guide from Teachers Pay Teachers helpful.
There are lots of great directions your lessons can go when you teach Beethoven. Enjoy the opportunity to introduce kids to this outstanding composer and his music!
If piano playing students become interested in playing Beethoven’s music themselves, arrangements of his most well-known songs are available at a variety of levels.
Beethoven | Piano Book for Easy/Intermediate Piano
Beethoven’s Fifth for Easy/Level 2 Piano Solo
Ode to Joy for Easy/Level 2 Piano Solo
Ode to Joy for Easy Piano – Play and Learn™ Series
Für Elise for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Ode to Joy Intermediate/Level 4 Piano Solo
Ode to Joy for Intermediate Piano – Play and Learn™ Series
Minuet in G for Intermediate/Level 4 Piano Solo
Moonlight Sonata for Piano Solo by Beethoven
Moonlight Sonata for Piano Solo by Beethoven – Play and Learn™
Ecossaise for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
Pathetique Sonata for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
Rage Over a Lost Penny for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
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