Listening Lesson: 'Walking the Dog'

Walking dogs · Gillian Vann/Unsplash

Age Range: Elementary

Learning Objective: Students will listen to the piece Walking the Dog composed by George Gershwin.

1. Composer George Gershwin wrote a piece called Walking the Dog, also known as "Promenade." A promenade is another word for a relaxed walk. This music comes from the 1937 film Shall We Dance. It is played during a scene where people are walking dogs on a cruise ship. The steady quarter notes in the lower voices make this music feel very walkable. The clarinet shows off its tremendous range, playing a soaring, jazzy melody over the walking beat.

2. Watch the scene from the movie where this music is played. The music part is the first two minutes or so.

Notice that about halfway through the scene, the characters stop following that steady walking beat.

3. Listen again to the music only.

Walk along to the tempo of the music as if you were walking. Pay attention to the steady beat/pulse. Listen and walk again. This time, try to trace the contour of the melody in the air as you walk. Pay attention and feel the combination of the pulse together with the movement of the melody.

4. The Rolling Stones have a song by the same name, but the music sounds different.

Can you hear some nursery rhymes mixed into the lyrics? Name two or three instruments you hear in this song.

5. Walking the dog means taking your pet out for exercise, but it's also the name of a yoyo trick. See a yoyo walk the dog here.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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