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: Listening for Conflict and Harmony
- Show your child a picture of the String family. Ask your child to identify characteristics that make these instruments similar (shape, color, etc.) and different (size, sound, etc.).
- Discuss with your child the similarities and differences of the String family.
- Repeat the same process with the Woodwind, Brass and Percussion families. You may need to explain that percussion instruments are struck or shook and may not have a similar look to one another.
- Have your child look at the instrument family photos and play excerpts from Grieg’s Suite No. 1 from Peer Gynt. Ask your child to point to the correct instrument family photo they hear in the following section of each movement of the piece:
10-minute+ activity: Theme and Variation
- Give your child four different colored crayons: Blue, Red, Yellow and Green
- Have your child listen to Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
- As your child listens to the piece, have your child identify the instrument family and freely draw to the music he/she hears using the colored crayon assigned to each instrument family:
- Blue = Strings
- Red = Percussion
- Yellow = Brass
- Green = Woodwinds
- Use the following listening map to reference the main musical theme:
- Explain that each instrument family played something similar, but not exactly the same, and that this is called a variation. You can use a simple example and ask your child for input on what makes something a theme vs. variation (i.e.: all cheese sandwiches have cheese and bread (theme) but some have cheddar, Swiss, muenster or pepper jack (variation), yet they are all still cheese sandwiches.)
- Have your child listen to the pieces in the listening map again. Together, play a game where you generate as many adjectives as possible, describing each of the different variations: