First of all, this lesson made me quite nostalgic for Benedictine and my wonderful Music History and Orchestration classes where we had the privilege to break down this piece and understand why it is so beautiful and unique and a perfect example of Impressionism.
I did my "Music Words" wall and had my 3rd graders tell me what they heard. I just loved to hear their individual and very creative interpretations of this masterpiece. The four words which my students chose were: strong, heavy, smooth and flowing. The two boys chose strong and heavy while the girls chose smooth and flowing which I thought was so incredibly interesting. The boy chose "heavy" because of the times when there was a lot of depth and a lot going on. I asked him if it could be when all the instruments were playing to together and he enthusiastically agreed. What really surprised me and truly gladdened my music teacher heart was when I asked them what type of music this reminded them of, particularly which country, and they all were like "Chinese music!" It was just so neat how they could hear the pentatonic scale in this piece.
So, as we discussed the piece I asked if there was a student that wanted to draw what they heard on the board and this is what I got...
The sun down is what he drew.... He told me that is made him think of a desert which in turn made him think of Indiana Jones! Too funny :)
Many of the students told me that it was very suspenseful. My favorite description was when one boy shared with the class that he heard "an abandoned church and then a light is streaming through one of the windows...". How cool is that? It is amazing what kids can come up with when they are given the chance!