Ludwig van Beethoven

Class: Grade 8                                                 Date: TBD

Topic: Social Issues                                         Subject: Music

Lesson Plan50 Minutes 
Content: Learn about Ludwig van Beethoven’s life (he was a real person!) by having students read the prepared readers theatre (attached). Students use Beethoven’s motif from his 5th Symphony as inspiration for their own improvisation using an online beat & sequence maker as well as using their Indigenous flutes. This lesson can easily extend over two classes to further explore student improvisation.
Outcomes and Indicators: 
(Arts Ed) CP8.7 Improvise, compose, and perform (e.g., with voice, instruments, and technologies) a selection of pieces in contrasting styles. b. Improvise simple pieces around a given structure. c. Create and improvise with an instrument paying attention to sound quality and intonation. d. Investigate ways that silence can be used in improvisation and music composition. f. Create composed and improvised melodic and rhythmic ostinati to accompany singing and playing. g. Use the Internet and other sources to research and discuss composers who work in contrasting styles. ***EXTENSION*** h. Prepare, rehearse, present, and evaluate individual and group performances of contrasting styles of music.
Assessment: Teacher walks around the classroom the entire time observing and assisting students creating their simple pieces around the given structure of Beethoven’s 5th symphony motif (da da da dahhhhhhh). Listen/ watch the students created music grid beats and offer praise and suggestions on how to include silence as well as rhythmic changes (music grid accommodates different pitches and speeds- encourage students to explore these).
Prerequisite Learning:  Students need to know the basics of how to play the Indigenous flute (similar to the recorder; taught in earlier grades). Students may benefit from being familiar with Music Grid, free online software.
Lesson Preparation Equipment/Materials Computer, Audio, Internet, YouTube (first 2 minutes)11 copies of the reader’s theatre & name tags. Music Grid website. Laptops/ tablets for students. Whiteboard/ chalk board/ whiteboard markers/ chalk/ eraser Advanced Preparation Photocopy the reader’s theatre Teacher is comfortable using Music Grid. Name tags identifying characters in the readers theatre
Set: (4 min) Show first two minutes:  Who has heard this piece of music? What does it remind you of? Who wrote this piece of music? His name is Ludwig van Beethoven and today we are going to learn a little bit about him.  
Development: (36 min)  Using 11 volunteers, have students take one part each and read the attached reader’s theatre (I created). Beethoven used one main theme, a motif, through this 5th Symphony. This theme keeps recurring throughout. It looks like this: GGGEflat, FFFD (draw on board). What does it sound like? (da da da dahhhhhhhhh). Have students listen to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony one more time (the first 18 seconds). Now it is our turn! Using Beethoven’s motif (dadada dahhhhhhhhh) see how you can play/ improvise with it on Music Grid. IF TIME ALLOTS: (this lesson may need to be split in half because they may enjoy using Music Grid so much). Now get out your Indigenous flutes and improvise using the given motif from Beethoven. Encourage students to incorporate silence (musical term= rests) into their compositions. How do rests change the rhythm? In pairs or very small groups: challenge some students to play the given motif (their created one or Beethoven’s) while the other plays an accompaniment (possibly one note sustained, ostinati). Practice for an informal in class “recital.”  

Closure: (10 min) Class recital time. 2 Minute journal writing time: what did the students notice when you incorporated silence (rests) into your composition? How did the composition change? Or did the composition change?    
Classroom Management Strategies    
Reader’s Theatre participants may come to the front of the classroom to read; obtain name tag.     Depending on time, class size, student behaviour, accessibility to laptops/ tablets: students can work on Music Grid alone or with partners. Teacher walks around room giving positive feedback, praise, and suggestions in using Music Grid. Engage with students in creative process. Remind students: The Indigenous flute is an instrument that gets treated with respect and care; it is not to be blown through causing earing piercing sounds. We are seeking good intonation. Teacher give signal/ cue once instruments can be played/ touched; students do not randomly pick up and play with- there are neighbouring classrooms! Students do not have to perform in the in-class recital but it is strongly encouraged. A neighbouring classroom may enjoy watching the recital.


  1. Have students research Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (same era) to compare different musical ideas and styles.
  2. Have students look on a map for Bonn, Germany, where Beethoven was born. What else was going on at this time (1770-1827, politically, religiously, etc.)?

Adaptive Dimension:

  1. Instead of reading through the reader’s theatre I can give a brief history of Beethoven’s life.
  2. Perhaps some students do not know how to use/ play the Indigenous flute: I can give instructions (it is actually very simple, especially for a grade 8 student to learn).
  3. For students that perhaps cannot use their mouths to blow into the indigenous flute, the student can blow using their nostrils or they can spend extra time with Music Grid.
  4. For students who have sensory needs: they may choose to work in the hallway or another classroom (make sure they do not interpret this as “punishment”); have the students use their earphones for Music Grid.

 Reader’s Theatre:       

Ludwig Beethoven (Grandpa)Hello! My name is Ludwig and I am the Kapellmeister at Electoral court in Bonn, Germany. My grandson is Ludwig van Beethoven but I died when he was 3 years old.
Johann BeethovenI have three sons; Ludwig van, Kaspar, and Nikolaus. I am a singer and instrumentalist at the Electoral court and I gave Ludwig his early musical training.
NarratorJohann was a harsh, severe parent and became an alcoholic.
Ludwig van BeethovenI am an organist and violinist. I traveled to Vienna to study with Mozart.
MotherI am Ludwig’s mother but I fell ill requiring my son Ludwig to return home early from Vienna to care for his brothers. I died soon after his return and Ludwig van become financially responsible for his brothers.
Ludwig van BeethovenI finally get to move to Vienna where I studied with Haydn. I get established- I am well known for my ability to improvise.
Prince LichnowskyI am a prince whom pays Ludwig van Beethoven but I quickly realize he has a ferocious temper where he storms off frequently. He moves 33 times in 35 years because he cannot get along with his landlords (& he was apparently a terrible tenant).
NarratorLudwig van Beethoven has many romantic relationships but remains single. He begins to lose his hearing in his mid-twenties and all treatments fail.
Ludwig van BeethovenI am deeply troubled and going through a lot of inner turmoil. In 1802 I write a letter to my dear brother telling him of my struggles. I contemplate suicide.
KasparI am Ludwig van Beethoven’s brother and I die in 1815. My wife and my brother have a long legal custody battle over my son, my brother wins. This is not good for my son and he attempts suicide in 1826, devastating my brother.
Ludwig van BeethovenI am now completely deaf and I spend my final years living in isolation causing me to become withdrawn and antisocial.
NarratorLudwig van Beethoven dies of pneumonia in March 1827, highly respected in Vienna.
Narrator 2Ludwig van Beethoven was a bold innovator, highly original and an influential figure. He was a superb musical architect: he planned and revised.
Narrator 3He used explosive accents, extreme dynamic contrasts and he incorporated new instruments into the orchestra such as the piccolo and trombone.

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