Sunday, September 2, 2012

New World Symphony

Last week I rehearsed Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" with the Lee's Symphony Symphony Orchestra in preparation for their fall classic.  Although I love performing, this rehearsal reminded me of why I'm an educator and not fighting tooth and nail for coveted symphony gigs around the world.  I had never played "The New World Symphony" before, and it was quite obvious within a few measures of sight reading that I wasn't as familiar with the piece as I had originally thought.  I knew I had homework to do, and I knew exactly where to go:  Carnegie Hall's listening adventures!

Carnegie Hall's listening adventure for Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 provides a detailed, animated listening map for the entire New World Symphony.  I love how the melody of most of the themes is either shown on a musical staff or shown with contour lines.  These are the three themes from the first movement:

The interactive maps provide a great tool for teaching form, contour, motifs, and instruments of the orchestra.  It also provides a great cross curricular opportunity for teaching history, geography, and storytelling.  I don't recommend going through the entire symphony in one lesson or even through one unit unless you are teaching older students.  I do recommend using one movement at a time to help supplement your and objectives.

Carnegie Hall has provided a "How to use this site" page to help you design a lesson that works best for you.  They also have an Activities page for each movement of the symphony.  These activities can be a great way to assess your students and to check for understanding.

You can believe that when I perform this piece at the Lee's Summit Symphony's Fall Classic on October 13 (yes, that's a shameless plug,) I will be imagining the sailing ships, dancers, and locomotives.

If you liked this online tool, you will love Carnegie Hall's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.  You can check out my blog posts about the YPGO here: