Written for the students of Hughson Christian School, Music Appreciation Class
Friday afternoons, with Miss Molly
note: Key words/concepts are printed in bold!
Human beings have always been making music. In every place they have populated, people have used their own bodies and the tools around them to build and harmonize sounds, and also to develop them.
Class Question: Where and how can we make music around us right now?
The amazing thing about this is that after awhile, people began to think about the sounds they were creating, and how different sounds went together. Everyone had different ideas of what to do next. From this, many formal systems of notating and listening to music developed all around the world.
Class Question: What kinds of music do you know about from all over the world?
Our class focuses on what we refer to as “Classical Music.” This is referred to more specifically as the “Common Practice Period.” Music from the Common Practice Period comes to us from Europe, and we start putting music in this category around the year 1600.
Class Question: What was music like before the year 1600? How do we know where it came from? How do we know who wrote it?
We need to go back in time, back to when people were first developing formal systems of notating music in Europe. The first composer we will explore is a woman named Hildegard Von Bingen. She is certainly not the first composer to have ever written early music, however for our class, this is where our journey will begin.
Hildegard Von Bingen lived in the Medieval Era. She was a Benedictine abbess.
Class Question: What years are considered the Middle Ages? Listen to her name. What country do you think she was from? What is an abbess? What do they do?
The most special part of Hildegard Von Bingen’s life was the fact that from the age of three, she had visions that she believed came to her directly from God. These visions inspired her to write and study the things she observed, and she wrote lots of scientific papers, as well as papers about philosophy and prayer. She was also a composer.
Class Question: What is a composer?
Many of the visions she had became the inspirations for the music that she wrote. Her most famous work is called Ordo Virtutum. This work is a liturgy, and was used within the church to teach moral values.
Hildegard Von Bingen was shy about her visions when she was younger. She kept them a secret for a very long time. It wasn’t until she had a very strong vision that she decided to reveal what she saw in the world around her. This strong vision urged her to cry out and speak about the visions she had.
Class Question: What would have happened if Hildegard Von Bingen had kept her talents and her visions to herself? What would have happened if she had never practiced them, or kept them a secret? What would have happened to the music we know of today?
From her book, “Scivias,” Hildegard Von Bingen writes this:
“I spoke and wrote these things not by the invention of my heart or that of any other person, but as by the secret mysteries of God I heard and received them in the heavenly places. And again I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Cry out therefore, and write thus!’ ”
Class Discussion: What are your talents? What if you kept them a secret from the whole world? What are the “voices that only you can hear”–the natural gifts and talents that you were born with? What do you notice about the natural talents of the other students in your class? How can you learn more about the gifts you were blessed with? How can you encourage the students in your class to explore the gifts they were blessed with?