Bernstein! Inside the Music

National Symphony Orchestra Young People's Concert


Music Master Times Three

The NSO Young People’s Concerts are a part of the Kennedy Center wide celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday.

As a part of this year-long celebration the program honors the creator of Young People’s Concerts by featuring his music and the idea that orchestral music can be accessible to everyone. Conductor Emil de Cou with NSO Assistant Principal 2nd Violinist Marissa Regni will demystify the music by breaking down the components of each piece through rhythm and melody. The concert includes well-known works by Bernstein, Grieg, and Stravinsky, and also introduces pieces to the students that they might not have experienced yet. Special guest Christylez Bacon, DC native beatboxer and multi instrumentalist, will make an appearance, as well.

Don’t miss this exciting program that shares with students the wonders of music!

Things To Know

An orchestra is a group of musicians who play different instruments. There are four sections or “families” of instruments: strings (including violin, viola, cello, and bass); woodwinds (including flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon); brass (including trumpet, horn, trombone, and tuba); and percussion (including timpani, snare drum, and xylophone).

The conductor is a person who leads the orchestra. Conductors use their right hand to tell the orchestra the tempo (speed) to play, and their left hand to indicate the dynamics (loud or soft). Some use a slender white stick called a baton (buh-TAHN) as they conduct. At the concert, watch how the conductor communicates with the musicians.

Things to Know Before You Go

Before you get on the school bus and travel to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, there are some things you should know. No worries, though. While your teacher will fill you in on a lot of the important music stuff, there are a few other things you might want to know before you go!

Before the Show

  • Bring a sweater or sweatshirt; sometimes the hall is pretty cold.
  • Use the restroom before the concert begins.
  • Put away wrapped candy. The crinkle can ruin a performance. Really!
  • Say what’s on your mind to anyone sitting with you so you can stop talking and stay quiet during the concert.

During the Concert

  • Respect the musicians. It’s okay to laugh and applaud, but only when the musicians expect it.
  • Respect the person in front of you. Don’t kick his or her chair.
  • Respect the person behind you. Don’t flop around too much or talk to your neighbor.

Enjoy the concert!

The Program

The Concert Program

Videos not appearing below? Click here to listen to the concert program!

Leonard Bernstein, Overture to Candide

Edvard Grieg, “In the Hall of the Mountain King”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No. 29, 1st movement

Arturo Márquez, Danzón No. 2

Igor Stravinsky, “Danse Sacrale” from The Rite of Spring

Benjamin Davies, No. 7 Aromatique

Leonard Bernstein, “Mambo” from West Side Story


“Maestro, if you please!” Oiid in the Classroom

“oiid” – an exciting new app in arts education – provides the opportunity for educators and students to pull apart a fully-produced orchestral performance in order to examine its components – and then to put the music back together again.

Oiid’s unique features allow users to adjust the pan and balance of a musical performance, and to isolate the participation or volume of individual instruments or instrumental sections. Oiid offers fresh insights into the specific nature of musical composition and allows students to directly experience an engaged interaction with the performance of professional orchestral musicians.

How to Use Oiid

The first step is to download and install oiid onto a smartphone or a tablet. Then download Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” under the classical category in the library. While the work is downloading, you will be able to familiarize yourself with various oiid features, such as the pan and fade tracks, or the isolation of specific instruments or instrumental sections. You might listen to the musical selection with the vocal commentary, offering a detailed musicologist perspective on the material – or you can eliminate the vocals in order to experience the musical performance without interference.

Start the track “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from the beginning and experiment on your own by fading out all the tracks except for one particular instrument. Sample a second instrument so that you get the feel of how the application works. As you listen to a single instrument’s participation in Grieg’s score, you can adjust the volume to play with the balance of the performance. Feel free to explore other instruments and combinations of instruments. You might also eliminate all the instrumental performances altogether – and simply observe the conductor’s movements in shaping the orchestra’s performance.

How to Use Oiid in the Classroom

In the classroom, an educator will encounter two different approaches to incorporating the Oiid application into a learning environment.

In the teacher-led approach, the educator would connect the smartphone or tablet to a projector – and display the oiid application on a classroom wall or projector screen. The educator is then free to shape a lecture-demonstration for students, allowing for their interactive participation by responses, questions, and suggestions.

In the engaged-student approach, the educator might divide the classroom into small groups, each equipped with its own iPad or tablet. [Apple has recently developed a classroom app that would allow the classroom teacher to control the display on students’ iPads as a shared experience. Otherwise, the educator might allow each small group to participate in its own engaged exploration of the Oiid features.] The educator is then able to coach students on their own investigation of the oiid app. The teacher might also facilitate a focused series of lessons, allowing student to engage in specific aspects of music composition based in an examination of Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

Oiid Lesson-plans and Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”

The National Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert, Bernstein! Inside the Music, features Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” in its examination of melody and rhythm as the essential elements of music. Oiid provides a unique opportunity to support students’ understanding of melody and rhythm as concepts of music composition and practical elements of music performance. In addition, students might engage and apply the concepts of orchestral performance, tempo, timbre, and musical dynamics without having to be proficient orchestral musicians themselves.

Lesson 1: Melody

Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” employs a single catchy melodic phrase that is repeated throughout the work at any increasing pace. With the isolation features of oiid, an educator might allow students to hear how classical composers assert a clearly stated melody and then “develop” that melody by altering the key, the dynamics, the tempo, or the instrumentation.

Lesson 2: Rhythm

Grieg’s core melody for “In the Hall of the Mountain King” has a trademark rhythm that is used at different times to suggest both Peer Gynt’s stealthy escape from the mountain and the trolls’ frantic pursuit. By isolating the rhythmic pattern as it is distributed between the string section, the woodwind section, the brass section and the percussion, students can appreciate the manner in which uses the entire orchestra combined to deliver the rhythmic drive of the work.

Lesson 3: Tempo

Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is essentially one long extended accelerando. Students will be able to comprehend tempo and the acceleration of tempo by “deconstructing” the orchestra’s performance into different sections. The “synth” of the performance – across the bottom of the image --- allows for listeners to jump between the early plodding sections – to the brilliant fast finale.

The student is also able to isolate the conductor’s role to observe how the conductor carefully manages the quickening tempo – and how he prevents instrumental sections from getting carried away.

Lesson 4: Conductor

Oiid’s features allow students the unique opportunity to watch the conductor’s performance “up close and personal” on the iPad or tablet. In addition, the listener might focus solely on the visual of the conductor while listening to the orchestra perform Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Educators could engage students to “sing along” with Grieg’s melody in time with the conductor’s baton, observing and experiencing how the conductor carefully and gradually shapes the accelerated tempo.

In addition, oiid’s vocal commentary allows students “inside” the conductor’s understanding of the orchestral composition. The commentary offers insightful information about the ways in which various instrumental sections are incorporated into the orchestration. It also offers insights into the conductor’s ability to shape and administer the musical performance.

Educators might also find it useful to have students observe the disciplined and collaborative focus of professional musicians as they follow the conductor’s lead.

Lesson 5: Timbre

The isolation feature of oiid allows educators to engage students in appreciating the mean of timbre in orchestral music. Timbre refers to the unique voice of each instrument and instrumental section. Students will gain an appreciation of timbre by hearing the same melody performed by specific instruments in isolation, separate instrumental sections as a group, and amassed instrumental sections as a whole. To do so, educators should instruct students to visit a specific area of the score – and indicate which instrument, section, or collection of sections should be activated.

Lesson 6: Percussion

Educators should instruct students to isolate the percussion section alone. This experience will provide students with an understanding of how “beat” underlies the composer’s construction of rhythmic elements in a work. It will also provide students with an auditory understanding of the difference between pitched instruments and un-pitched instruments.

Lesson 7: Musical Dynamics

Musical dynamics refer to the various levels of loud, very loud, soft, and very soft that might be employed by a composer -- and subject to interpretation by a conductor.

Oiid allows educators to isolate the softer sections or a performance and the louder sections of a performance, especially in a work as dynamic as Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” The oiid features also allows students and educators to control those musical dynamics themselves – by raising or lowering the volume of a specific instrument, a instrumental section, or the entire orchestra.

For Educators

Core Connections:
This performance is connected to the following Common Core Standards:
English Language Arts—Speaking and Listening (SL.2), Language (L.3, L.4)

View the Teacher Guide online



Doug Cooney
Original Writer

Editors & Producers

Lisa Resnick
Content Editor

Kenny Neal
Manager, Digital Education Resources

David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of the NSO

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