Upper Elementary Lesson Plans
These lesson plans are created to assist both music specialists and classroom teachers in preparing students, grades 4-5 for the Upper Elementary Concert experience. These can be incorporated in the music or general classrooms to prepare students for this concert.
As a significant component of the Houston Symphony’s 2025 vision to become America’s most relevant and accessible top-ten orchestra, four new musician positions were created. These musicians, called “Community-Embedded Musicians” (CEMs), are highly skilled musicians with specialities in education and community engagement, who spend 20% of their time performing with the orchestra, while working in schools, neighborhoods and healthcare settings in the remaining 80% of their time. The CEMs have not only helped the Houston Symphony meet a larger group of Houstonians, but have also helped us hone the design principles and priorities within our Education & Community work. These design principles are reflected in our student concerts, as well as in more intimate classroom interactions through our school residencies and pre- & post-concert musician visits.
Some of these principles, carried through in the design of the lesson plans/activities in this guidebook are: 1) Set a no-fail environment. Even if the composer had a programmatic goal for the music, students can have very different listening experiences and each are valid. The different thoughts/ideas shared throughout the classroom may even allow the students to explore different ideas in the music upon further listening. Which brings us to: 2) Allow multiple listens. All of the lesson plans in this guidebook are centered around one of the pieces on the program so that students can explore different elements within the music that will be experienced at the concert. The goal of this preparation is to develop critical thinking and active listening skills. 3) Experiential learning. While it is helpful to know the instruments in the orchestra and some of the technical components of music, our goal is for the students to develop personal connections to the music regardless of the level of their technical knowledge. You may notice that we try to step away from music in the introductory prompts so that students can develop their own connections inside the music when listening. These lessons require less teaching and more facilitation.
CEREMONIES THROUGH MUSIC
Topic: Identifying plot and setting in music; Instrument families
Repertoire Tie: Rossini's Overture to La gazza ladra
Topics: Mood; Melody
Repertoire tie: Grieg's "Morning" from Peer Gynt
THE MANY SIDES OF TIL
Topics: Character; Musical theme; Interpretation
Repertoire Tie: Strauss's Til Eulenspiegel