There are four Web shows in the Beethoven Rocks! Series:
Meet Mr. Beethoven, where you’ll get to know more about the man and his music.
- Get the story on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with its famous “da-da-da-DUM.”
- Explore his Pastoral Symphony, which paints a scene of country life using music.
- Learn about an important section of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (this page), called the “Ode to Joy”— and maybe you’ll even sing along!
Check them out!
Subscribe to this audio series:
The Ninth Symphony is as big as Beethoven gets.
If you have read Meet Mr. Big, you already know that Beethoven became more and more deaf over time. By the time he wrote this symphony, he was near the end of his career—and he was also completely deaf.
What challenges did Beethoven overcome to write it?
Musical Terms You Should Know
Symphony: A long work for orchestra in three or four smaller parts called “movements.”
Motif: A short rhythmic or melodic idea that is repeated in a composition.
Sonata: A musical composition for one, two, or three instruments in three or four movements.
String quartet: A group of four musicians, usually two violins, a viola, and a cello.
Listening to...Symphony No. 9
Here are some things to think (and talk) about during and after you listen to the Finding Joy audio story:
- In this story, you only hear an excerpt, or section, of the 9th Symphony-- but this small part shows just how big this music can sound. What happens in the music to make it sound so big? Use music terms-- like pitch, dynamics and rhythm to describe how the music changes. You can also use any of the new words for “big” that you might have learned.
- You may already know that after Beethoven became deaf, he sensed piano vibrations in order to “hear” the music he was creating. As you listen to the story about the symphony’s premiere, think about Beethoven appearing onstage for the concert. Being deaf, Beethoven was unable to hear the applause until he was turned to face the audience. How do you think he felt, both before and after he turned around?
“Ode to Joy” Sing-along
Beethoven made the big decision to add voices as nearly-equal members of the orchestra. Now you can add your voice to Beethoven’s music! The audio story lets you hear the music and melody together. We've also got clips of just the music so you can sing on your own!
If you want to join in, here are some tips for a great experience:
- Read the lyrics aloud first so you can become familiar with the words before singing.
- Listen to the recorded song once or twice. You don’t have to sing the whole thing; just sing along with parts as you go, adding new lines as you get more comfortable.
- Remember to use good singing technique.
For the Educator
Bigger than You Might Expect
There’s a lot to cover when teaching about Beethoven and his music. The resources in this set contain information about composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and listening activities relating to three major symphonies (the 5th, 6th and 9th.) The activities are designed for grades 4 and up, and may be presented by the classroom teacher or music specialist.
The listening activities in this player were originally created to support the National Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert Beethoven Rocks! Some of the clips reference the concert— specifically the “Ode to Joy” sing-along practice track— but this will not impact most classroom uses.
In addition, our Elementary Music advisor, Russell Nadel of the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public School system, has shared SMART Board files that incorporate and extend these resources for interactive whiteboards.
Listening to...Symphony No. 9
The Ninth Symphony is as big as Beethoven gets. As a composer, Beethoven increased the orchestra’s size, expanded the symphony form, and boldly introduced the voice as an instrument. On a personal level, Beethoven was addressing joy and humanity after years of isolation as a deaf man and confronting his personal struggles as a deaf composer.
- Ask students to recall the biographical information about Beethoven, especially “The Music in His Head.” Remind them that Beethoven sensed piano vibrations in order to “hear” the music he was creating.
- Have students listen to the famous story of the symphony’s premiere and how Beethoven appeared onstage for the concert. Being deaf, Beethoven was unable to hear the applause until he was turned to face the audience. Discuss whether students comprehend how a composer might rely on imagination and sound vibrations to write music. What challenges did Beethoven overcome?
“Ode to Joy” Sing-along
Students learn that Beethoven made the bold decision to add voices as nearly-equal members of the orchestra.
- Invite students to sing the updated lyrics to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
- Direct students to read the lyrics aloud first so they become familiar with the words before singing. Listen to the recorded song once or twice and direct students to sing phrases in sequence, adding new lines as they grow more confident.
- Discuss important concepts in singing together, and remind students to use good singing technique.
- Lead children in the sing-along.
FYI: The lyrics to “Ode to Joy” were adapted by Beethoven from a poem by Frederick Schiller. The revised lyrics presented for students are an attempt to make the words more kid-friendly without departing from the underlying intent of the original poem. The original translated lyrics, begin, in part:
Joy, beautiful spark of divinity
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Into your sanctuary, heavenly daughter!
Your magic reunites
What custom strictly divided.
All men become brothers,
Where your gentle wing rests.
If you decide to go with the original, let us know how it goes!