Age Range: Elementary
Learning Objective: Students will learn to identify the double bass by sight and sound.
Free Download: Printable Lesson Plan: Double Bass
EXPLAIN. Show students this picture of the double bass. “The double bass (also called the string bass, or just bass) has the same basic shape as the violin, viola, and cello, it is just a lot bigger. It's about six feet tall, and bass players need to stand or sit on a special stool to play it. Because it's so big, it can make really low sounds. Bigger instruments make lower sounds.”
WATCH. Watch and listen to the beginning of this movement from Gustav Mahler's first symphony. “About fourteen seconds in, you will see and hear the double bass play a solo. It is a sort of sad and mysterious version of the folk song Frère Jacques (English translation: Are You Sleeping, Brother John?)”
LISTEN. “When the composer Camille Saint-Saens decided to write a piece of music called ‘The Elephant,’ he chose the double bass to capture the spirit of that big and playful animal. Listen to the music while you look at some cute elephant pictures.” Option to have students stand and move like elephants - they can clasp they hands and sway their arms to create a trunk.
WATCH. “Like the other members of the string family, the strings of the double bass can be bowed or plucked. When the strings are plucked, it's called pizzicato. The double bass is often used in jazz music. In jazz, the pizzicato double bass sound is very common. Here is a well-known jazz song, ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street,’ played and sung by Esperanza Spalding and her band!” (Look out for Spalding’s bass solo at the 2:49 mark!)
WATCH. Here is one more example of pizzicato double bass – look/listen out for drumming on the bass, and for one player to use a bow partway through!
REFLECT. Write down or tell someone three things you learned about the double bass.
Explore the cello through a piece called ‘The Escape Artist,‘ by Zoe Keating.
In this lesson, learn about and listen to the harp most commonly used in orchestras: the "pedal harp."
Meet four organists, or people who play the organ, in four different settings.
Learn more about how the pipe organ works- part two of a three-part series!
Compare and contrast four musical pieces written for this instrument!
The viola looks like the violin, but it’s just a little bigger! Learn about the viola and listen to several Class Notes artists demonstrate their instrument.
Did you know most oboe players make their own reeds? Learn about this woodwind instrument and hear what it sounds like in this instrument exploration lesson!
The piano has 88 keys! Explore how sound is made on this keyboard instrument.
Even though it’s made of metal, the flute is a member of the woodwind family! Listen to and learn about the flute in this lesson.