Have more time? Explore these SHORT AT-HOME ACTIVITIES with your child before coming to Symphony Center!

2-minute activity: Instrument Families

Guide your child through a discussion about instrument families.

  • Ask your child, “What makes up a family?” Explore the ideas of families in terms of similar looks/traits, common interests or hobbies and connections to one another.
  • Let you child know that musical instruments also belong to families. In the orchestra, similar instruments are grouped together based on various shared characteristics.
  • Ask your child if they know the names of any of the instrument families.
  • Identify the families of instruments in the orchestra using this link.

7-minute activity: Exploring motif. Symphony No. 5, Mvt. 1

  • Tell your child that they will hear the first movement of Symphony no. 5, which is based on a simple four-note idea. Ba-Ba-Ba-BUMMMM!
  • Brainstorm with your child how they would keep a teeny musical idea interesting for 1½ minutes. Ask, what are some ways the music could be changed? (e.g. higher, lower, faster, slower, backwards, etc.)
  • Explain that a short musical idea is called a motif.
  • Have your child listen to the piece to see how many of their ideas Beethoven used with his motif, and if there are other uses they didn’t think of.
  • Beethoven was a passionate man who didn’t hide his feelings, but in his day, most music didn’t express much emotion. He chose to change this in his composing. His music is said to “stir the soul,” expressing the emotions that humans universally experience.
  • Ask your child what emotion they felt when listening to this music.

10-minute+ activity: Ode to Joy, Symphony No. 9, movement 4

  • Play the ‘Ode to Joy’ theme and ask your child if they’ve ever heard it before. (Beethoven used a poem by German poet Friedrich Schiller as inspiration for this famous tune.)
  • Play this piece beginning at the 3:00 minute mark and ask your child what emotions they think Beethoven wanted his listeners to experience when the full chorus joins the orchestra near the end of this piece. Brainstorm about what in the music helps the audience feel this way.
  • Sing the “Ode to Joy” theme with your child using these words:

If it feels like no one hear you,
listen to your inner voice.
Search inside yourself, be brave,
And make a new creative choice.
Music move us; be inspired
by all those who’ve come before.
Speak your truth and share with others;
that’s what music was made for!

  • Tell your child that Beethoven changed the world of music forever by boldly creating music that challenged the musical rules of his time. He used music to fully express the incredible range of human emotions and believed that our highest ideals could be realized through music. What do you think?”
  • Experience what it was like for Beethoven to hear his music by listening to some of the links HERE. Ask your child to communicate at home for an hour, but only in writing. After the hour is over, have a conversation about how they might have handled this physical impairment if they were Beethoven.
  • Beethoven Haus Bonn (https://www.beethoven.de/de/beethoven) has a delightful interactive portion on its site for children HERE.
  • All About Beethoven provides multiple links to child-friendly sites about the composer.