Tag Archives: composer of the month

Composer of the Month Resources for the Elementary Music Classroom

A new school year means a fresh start– a chance to try new strategies, routines and materials. This year, consider featuring a composer of the month in your music classroom.  It’s an easy way to introduce your students to great composers even if you don’t have time to spend whole units getting to know them. With a little wall space for visuals and a little class time, your students will have the opportunity to meet a composer, learning basic facts about their lives and contributions.

For each of the composers below, you’ll find a bulletin board pack– a printable pdf file with a large image of the composer, fun facts about the composer, and a list of each composer’s “Greatest Hits.” The posters are designed to be clear and basic so that after a month of seeing these posters on the wall, your students will recall the key facts. You’ll also find a kid-friendly, one-page biography. To follow up any biography, you can use Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet to review the experiences and skills that shaped that composer. Additional worksheets, lesson plans and other resources are also provided for each composer to extend your study beyond the biography.

Composer of the Month: Beethoven

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Get Beethoven | Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Pack
Get Beethoven free printable biography

More Beethoven Resources:
Beethoven Word Search
Beethoven Multiplication-Connect-the-Dot
Beethoven Coloring Page
Homeschool Music Lesson Plans

Composer of the Month: John Williams

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Get John Williams | Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Pack
Get Williams free printable biography

More John Williams Resources:
John Williams | Film Score Music Listening Glyphs
Star Wars (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Jurassic Park (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Indiana Jones (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
John Williams | Word Search Worksheet
Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet
Homeschool Music Lesson Plans

Composer of the Month: Franz Joseph Hayden

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Get Haydn | Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Posters
Get Hayden free printable biography

More Hayden Resources:
Surprise Symphony | Listening Map and Lesson
Franz Joseph Haydn | Word Search Worksheet
Franz Joseph Haydn | Coloring Page
Meet the Composer Job Application | Worksheet
Surprise Symphony | Listening/Activity Lesson | Grade 2-4
Homeschool Music Lesson Plans | Franz Joseph Haydn

Composer of the Month: George Frederic Handel

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Get Handel | Composer of the Month Lesson and Bulletin Board Pack
Get Handel free printable biography

More Handel Resources:
Hallelujah Chorus | Soprano Recorder Play-Along (Music/Mp3)
Hallelujah Chorus (Handel) | Listening Map
Hallelujah Chorus (Handel) | Listening Map/Composer Pack (Bundle)
George Frideric Handel Word Search
Free Homeschool Lesson Plans

Composer of the Month: Sergei Prokoviev

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Get Prokofiev | Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Pack
Get Prokofiev free printable biography

More Prokofiev Resources:
Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) | Music Lesson Pack
Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) | Comic Strip Worksheet and Lesson Plan
Peter and the Wolf | Music Listening Lesson
Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) Listening Glyph
Sergei Prokofiev | Word Search
Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet
Peter and the Wolf FunLib™ (Prokofiev) | Story and Worksheet
Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) | Music Lesson Pack
Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) | Bulletin Board Pack

With these materials, introducing your elementary music class to a new composer each month will be fun and easy. Among all the exciting things they’ll learn in your class this year, they’ll meet some some of the world’s greatest composers.

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Old Maid: Music Composer Card Game
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More American Music Composers | Free Printable Biographies, Sheet Music and Worksheets

Today’s post is a continuation of the American Music Composers post which explored the lives and music of great American composers. The three composers featured below make great subjects of study anytime, but especially nearing the end of a year of lessons. Their music is just plain fun to listen to and to play, and even kids who are staring out of classroom windows or slacking on their practice time will be engaged by it.

scott-joplin.jpg Scott Joplin, the second of six children, was born sometime between June 1867 and January 1868 in eastern Texas. His father was a slave, while his mother was born a free black woman. After 1871 Joplin and his family moved to Texarkana, Texas. It was then that young Scott taught himself music on a piano in a home where his mother worked. Get complete free printable biography.

Joplin’s rise to musical success, just one generation removed from slavery, is certainly remarkable. Review his story with Scott Joplin | Word Search Worksheet and Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet, and put a face to the name with Scott Joplin | Coloring Page.

Seldom does one man define a musical genre like Scott Joplin defined ragtime. Recordings of his work make for enjoyable listening activities and are fun to play, too. Young pianists and other instrumentalists can try their hand at some of Joplin’s greatest hits with these sheet music selections:

The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo – Play and Learn™
The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
The Entertainer for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo – Play and Learn™
Maple Leaf Rag for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Easy Winners for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
The Entertainer for Easy Flute Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Clarinet Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Alto Saxophone Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Trumpet Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Trombone Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Violin Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Viola Solo with Piano Accompaniment
The Entertainer for Easy Cello Solo with Piano Accompaniment

gershwin.jpgGeorge Gershwin was born as Jacob Gershowitz on September 26, 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. George, the second of four children, was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents Morris Gershowitz and Rosa Bruskin. His father changed the family name to Gershwin after immigrating from Russia. Get the complete free printable biography.

His is another story of a fascinating rise from high school dropout in a Brooklyn apartment to brotherly partnership and worldwide fame. Free resources for reviewing Gershwin’s biography include George Gershwin | Word Search and Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet.

Gershwin composed a number of hits that have stood the test of time, often accompanied by his brother’s lyrics. Here are a few favorites arranged for easy/ intermediate piano.

Rhapsody in Blue  for piano solo
Summertime for piano solo
They Can’t Take That Away from Me for piano solo

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John Williams was born on February 8, 1932, in Floral Park, New York. In 1948 John moved with his family to Los Angeles, California. He later attended college near his home in Los Angeles where he began to study composition. After college he was drafted into the United States Air Force where he had the opportunity to arrange music for, and conduct the Air Force band. Get complete printable free biography.

From show tunes with Gershwin to movie magic with Williams, the stage and the silver screen have inspired some memorable American music. After reading Williams’s biography, review with John Williams | Word Search Worksheet and
Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet. Then, get on with the show to enjoy the many classic film scores that Williams has composed.

Since his works are recognizable and accessible, they lend themselves well to listening activities for kids of all ages. Guide their listening experience with the following listening glyphs, customized for some of the most well-known Williams pieces. Glyphs allow students to record what they are hearing with color, helping them learn what to listen for and giving them vocabulary to describe music. star-wars-listening-glyph-worksheet.jpg

John Williams | Film Score Music Listening Glyphs
Star Wars (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph

Jurassic Park (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Indiana Jones (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph

Besides for the films listed above, Williams is also known for ET, the Harry Potter films, Superman, and Schindler’s List. Kids can make their own soundtrack with the piano sheet music selections below.

Star Wars Main Theme for intermediate piano Solo
Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter films for student (easy)/ teacher duet
Raiders March for intermediate piano solo

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Top 10 Easy/ Intermediate Piano Solos | Piano Sheet Music

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Ludwig van Beethoven Music Lesson Resources | Lesson Plan Guide

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

beethoven.jpgYou 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.

Beethoven’s Music
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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Elementary Music Lesson Plans | 24 Lessons

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Tchaikovsky | Homeschool Music Lesson Curriculum

You don’t have to be an expert in Russian Romantic composers to give your students an appreciation of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. With a few helpful resources, you can introduce Tchaikovky’s life and greatest musical contributions. Studying Tchaikovsky is certainly a worthwhile investment, as many of his works are cultural staples, and he is credited with bringing Russian music onto the international scene.

Introduction
The fact that many of Tchaikovsky’s most famous pieces were written for ballets also makes them great choices for younger children to study. These programmatic works convey distinctive senses of mood, time, and place, and can be connected with the stories of the ballets. Playing clips or even full recording of some of Tchaikovsky’s most appealing pieces may be a great way to pique students’ interest as you begin your study. Selections from the Nutcracker, such as Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, Trepak, or Arabian Dance would all work nicely, and recordings can be found on YouTube. Students could be asked to draw images that the music makes them picture, write or describe a story inspired by the song, move to the music, or simply share observations and feelings about the music.

Biography
Once students have been drawn in by the music, the study can begin with an overview of the composer’s life. This accessible yet thorough one-page free Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Printable Biography introduces the composer. To review the facts from the biography, use the Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky | Word Search and the Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet. The word search asks students to return to the biography text and determine possible keywords to look for in the word search, which requires higher level critical thinking. The job application is a practical way to synthesize the composer’s life experiences and accomplishments. A visual element can also be incorporated with the Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Coloring Page, allowing students to put a face with the name.

Depending on how in-depth you want students to study Tchaikovsky’s life and context, further research can be assigned, with findings presented in writing, electronic presentation, or speech. However, if a more general study is your goal, your students should have enough of a foundation to move on.

Works
An introduction to Tchaikovsky must include an introduction to the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker FunLib™ Story and Worksheet is a fun way to teach and review the basics of the Nutcracker’s plot. One page provides a succinct summary of the story, and the second page provides a synopsis with blanks where keywords should be. The second page could be used to create a silly story by having students choose words to fill in the blanks without seeing the context. After you read the nonsense story, students could guess what some of the real answers might be as a pre-reading exercise for the real story. The FunLib could even be used again for review after the real story has been read.

Then, to study the music of the Nutcracker, use the Nutcracker Venn Diagram (Tchaikovsky) Worksheet. You can select any two pieces from the Nutcracker Suite: Arabian Dance (“Coffee”), Chinese Dance (“Tea”), Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy, March, Russian Dance (“Trepak”), Dance of the Reed Flutes, or Waltz Of The Flowers. Depending on students’ ages and musical background knowledge, you could leave the comparison and contrast open-ended, allowing them to observe any similarities and differences they think of. If they need guidance, you could instruct them to listen for dynamics (volume), speed (tempo), instrumentation (which instruments are playing), the mood and feelings the music creates, or articulation (slurred, tongued, staccato, legato) to get them started.

To listen to an individual piece more critically, try Tchaikovsky Listening Glyphs available on Teachers Pay Teachers. These allow students to represent with colors what they are hearing the music. Glyphs give students specific musical elements to listen for and provide two choices for them to decide between. These simple listening activities help increase students’ musical vocabulary and observation skills.

For additional types of listening activities, consider the Composer of the Month: Peter Tchaikovsky Bundle, also available on Teachers Pay Teachers. Also included in the bundle is a biography slide show, worksheets, interesting facts, and visual aids.

For review or culminating assignment, options abound. Students could write or present on almost any aspect of Tchaikovsky that interest them. This might include comparing and contrasting his life and/or work with another composer they have studied, reviewing or comparing different performances of his works, analyzing one or more of his works in greater depth, or researching his life and contributions further. For a more creative project, students could create artistic products or performances inspired by Tchaikovsky’s works. These could be collages or other art products, original music compositions, dances, dramas, or creative writing. Attending an orchestral or ballet performance live and writing a critical review makes for a memorable experience, but the same can also be done with a video performance.

Students whose imaginations are captured by Tchaikovsky’s music may wish to play some of his works in their own piano studies. There are Tchaikovsky arrangements at all skill levels below.

Swan Lake (Solo) for Easy/Level 1 Piano Solo by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Swan Lake (Duet) Easy/Level 1 Piano Duet by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Beriozka (The Birch Tree) for Easy/Level 2 Piano Solo | 4th Symphony Theme
March Slav for Easy/Level 2 Piano Solo
Trepak (Nutcracker) for Easy/Level 2 Piano Solo
Arabian Dance (Nutcracker) for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Nutcracker) for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano
Romeo and Juliet (Love Theme) for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Chinese Dance (Nutcracker) for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
Dance of the Reeds (Nutcracker) for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
Swan Lake (Theme) for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo by Tchaikovsky
Theme from 1812 Overture for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
March (Nutcracker) for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
Waltz of the Flowers (Nutcracker) for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo

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John Williams Music Lesson Resources | Lesson Plan Guide

Featuring a contemporary composer can engage students in an exciting way. However, it can be more difficult to find teaching resources for contemporary composers than the tried and true Baroque and Classical stalwarts. Nonetheless, it is worth the effort to educate students about great 20th and 21st Century composers such as John Williams. To help get you started, we have a collection of resources for teaching John Williams in the classroom or homeschool setting.

For anyone familiar with great movie soundtracks, John Williams needs no introduction. Among his best-known works are pieces featured in Star Wars, ET, the Indiana Jones films, and the Harry Potter series, just to name a few. Students love the opportunity to study the music from movies they love, and there is much for them to learn from doing so. What musical choices does Williams make to create the magical sense of time, place, and emotion that he is so skilled at evoking? What in his life prepared him to become the greatest film score composer of all time? What role does music play in film? These and many more questions are waiting to be explored by your students.

First of all, if you have a bulletin board or other display area, consider using the John Williams | Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Pack to add a visual element and a few memorable facts to get started.

A kid-friendly free biography of John Williams is an excellent place to begin a study. Students’ comprehension of the biography can be deepened with John Williams | Word Search Worksheet (also free), where students draw conclusions about keywords from the biography as they generate their own possible word list for the search. Review the qualifications and experiences of the composer one more time with the Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet, where students complete a job application on the composer’s behalf. For older students, a Prezi presentation with guided notes sheet offers further detail on Williams’ life and contributions.

One of the highlights of any composer study is a focused listening experience. Listening glyphs can be extremely helpful, especially for younger students, as they learn what to listen for in music and acquire the vocabulary to reflect what they are hearing. Check out the following listening glyphs for some of Williams’ most recognized works:

Star Wars (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Jurassic Park (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph
Indiana Jones (John Williams) | Music Listening Glyph

The above works are available as a John Williams | Film Score Music Listening Glyph Pack with some additional general and blank glyphs to use for additional Williams pieces of your choice.  Another bundle of John Williams Listening Glyphs by The Bulletin Board Lady on Teachers Pay Teachers offers some additional pieces. For older students, a John Williams Film Score Graphing Worksheet facilitates comparison and analysis of the composer’s works. Any of these listening worksheets could be a starting point for a comparison/ contrast writing assignment of a length appropriate for the grade level.

For further study, a bundle including plans for mini-lessons and links to applicable YouTube videos is available from Pitch Publications on Teachers Pay Teachers.Work with John Williams could also be incorporated into a larger unit on music in film. Here’s one example of a Music in Film Unit at the middle school level, and another extensive Let’s Go to the Movies music camp or workshop plan that could provide some great inspiration.

Classic movies, great music, and engaged students – what’s not to love about studying John Williams?

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Johann Sebastian Bach | Homeschool Music Lesson Curriculum

Studying composers in a homeschool setting provides the opportunity to explore the connections between music and history. It helps students place music into its larger context and learn what makes each composer’s contributions unique. A study of composer’s lives can also open up discussions on character. Each composer walked a different road to greatness with their own struggles and successes, allowing students to explore the different ways goals can be pursued.

Finally, and most obviously, the study of a composer can be used to increase students’ musical appreciation and literacy. Being familiar with great composers’ most well-known works establishes cultural literacy, and it also gives them an opportunity to experience the pure enjoyment of listening to great music. You can also give students the tools to listen to and discuss music intelligently.

One doesn’t need to be an expert in music to guide homeschool students through such a study. The resources below provide a great start to a study of the Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

An approachable biography of a composer is a great place to begin. Consider MakingMusicFun.net’s Hey Kids, Meet Johann Sebastian Bach. This brief biography lays out the basic facts of the composer’s life and work. If you’d like students to dig in further to his life and times, this biography provides enough background knowledge to help them generate questions for further research.

Once students have read the biography, they can deepen their comprehension of what they’ve read with the “Meet the Composer” Job Application | Worksheet. This worksheet asks students to synthesize their knowledge of the composer’s experiences and works and apply them in the context of a job application. Higher level thinking skills are also exercised in the Johann Sebastian Bach | Word Search. This activity differs from the typical word search in that students have to generate their own word list by determining the keywords from the biography above. (The keywords are provided for the instructor’s use and guidance.)

Some additional ideas for writing and listening can be found at Johann Sebastian Bach Homeschool Lesson Plans, and this page also includes a list of Bach sheet music for students who wish to tie their piano playing to their studies. To work Bach into another subject, try the Johann Sebastian Bach Multiplication Connect-the-Dot. Just for fun, you can also use Johann Sebastian Bach Coloring Page.

Anchor any composer you study more firmly in their historical context with this comprehensive Music History Timeline, featuring world history events that impacted composers’ lives. Bring Bach’s time to life with the movie Bach’s Fight for Freedom using this movie guide.

To delve more deeply into Bach’s works, consider using Bach Listening Glyphs available on Teachers Pay Teachers. These worksheets guide students to graphically represent what they hear when they listen to Bach’s music, such as the Brandenburg Concertos or Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Once again, you don’t have to be a music teacher to listen with your student and follow the prompts to record what you hear.

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John Williams Composer of the Month Bulletin Board Pack

If you want to introduce a composer that will instantly engage your students, John Williams fits the bill. Best known for his iconic movie scores, Williams demonstrates that artful orchestral music is not a thing of the past. The John Williams Bulletin Board Poster Pack provides an informative visual focus for any study of the composer.

Get John Williams Bulletin Board Poster Pack

Contents
1 11 x 14.5 John Williams Portrait Poster
5 8.5 x 11 Bulletin Board Posters
(Digital download/ PDF from Making Music Fun!)

This poster pack is a ready-to-use resource that will introduce students to key information about John Williams and reinforce the facts again and again. You are just a download and print away from a quick and easy visual display that will reinforce your focus on teaching John Williams. The intentionally simple design of the posters allows main points to stand out so that students will notice and remember them. A large and small portrait help students place a face with the name. Probably most importantly, students will likely recognize at least one of their favorite movies on the list of well-known film scores by this composer.

John Williams makes a great first composer of the month choice, since he is a living composer whose work students have likely been exposed to. The concepts and skills learned through a study of Williams can also provide a bridge to future composer studies, making them seem less distant. Or, if you’ve already started composers of the month, Williams can provide an exciting variation. A John Williams lesson or unit could also be a great introduction to an exciting study of music in film for students of any age.

Although the fun of movie music may provide the initial appeal, there are countless possibilities for serious musical study in John Williams’ works. For example, John Williams Film Score Listening Glyphs and Lesson Plan or can introduce or review several musical terms with young students. Students will be eager to learn what techniques Williams used to bring the magical atmosphere to the Harry Potter films, the heart-stopping fear to Jaws, or the triumphant adventure to the Indiana Jones movies. Discussions of dynamics, articulation, tempo, pitch, leitmotif, key, and so much more will naturally arise from guided listening to his pieces. (And, students are never disappointed when a lesson includes a film clip!)

The John Williams Bulletin Board Poster Pack brings a visual anchor to a study that demonstrates the power of music to take us to faraway places.

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