Composer Study: Ludwig van Beethoven

Adding “composer study” to our school subjects was really a no pressure way to expand our learning simply by being intentional.  I enjoy listening to classical music, and it’s so easy to help my children become familiar with great composers just by choosing a composer for the month and listening to his music at least once a week.  I tell them the composer’s name, and then we listen to the music and occasionally talk about what it sounds like.  If that’s all we do, great.  However, for some of the uber-famous composers, there are lots of other great ways to help all of us learn more about the composers’ lives and music, so I like to take advantage of those as well.

Last month we studied one of the “giants” of classical music: Ludwig van Beethoven, and there were a LOT of resources available.  Here’s a list of some of the things we enjoyed as we learned about this incredible artist.

Audio Resources

The boys got a kick out of several pieces from the Beethoven’s Wig series, where silly lyrics are put to the tune of famous classical pieces. (There’s also a book that goes along with the title song, but we didn’t manage to get our hands on it.) All the albums are available on Amazon either on CD or for download.  Each album also contains the original song without words, so I recommend buying the whole album rather than individual songs, though I’ve also included links for each one.  There are pieces by many different composers, but these are the songs by Beethoven the we listened to:

Video Resources

  • Beethoven Lives Upstairs DVD (also available for purchase from Amazon Instant Video)
  • Pastoral Symphony (6th) from Fantasia (I don’t recommend this one if your family is extremely sensitive to nudity.  I don’t have a problem with it since it is animated and not graphic.  My kids didn’t even notice.)

Little Einsteins episodes that have music by Beethoven (always a favorite in our house):

  • “Brand New Outfit” and “The Missing Invitation” both feature “Ode to Joy” from the 9th Symphony
  • “Brothers and Sisters to the Rescue” and “Annie and the Beanstalk” both feature the theme from the 5th Symphony.  (Every time Elijah hears the opening of the 5th Symphony he shouts, “That’s the Forte Giant!”)
  • There are also 2 other episodes “The Christmas Wish” and “A Galactic Goodnight” (both feature “Fur Elise”) that we didn’t have on our DVR so we haven’t gotten to watch them yet.

Books and Other Reading

And for grown-ups:

Homeschooling is not just for the kids.  I try to did a little deeper and learn new things myself about the subjects we’re studying.  So I started practicing a piano Sonata I’d never learned before.  I may not do this for every composer (even the ones that wrote piano music), but after learning so much about Beethoven over the course of the month, it made the piece feel very personal.

I also enjoyed watching a couple videos about Beethoven online:

As always, if you have any suggestions of other resources, please comment!  I love collecting ideas!


Posted on August 16, 2012, in Charlotte Mason, Composer Study and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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