Themed Lesson: Landscapes

cn themed lessons thumbnails-dreams-landscapes
Matteo Minelli/Unsplash

Age Range: All Ages

Learning Objective: Students will have opportunities to create, respond and connect to pieces of music written about landscapes.

Note to Teachers: As opposed to a sequential lesson plan, themed lessons are a pick-and-choose model. Select repertoire and activities from the lists below based on your time and needs.



CONNECT. Look through the images of landscapes. Allow students to connect their own experiences to the pictures below. They might share with a classmate or the whole class. Then, choose one or two pieces of music to listen to and discuss if the music matched their experience. The landscapes connect to the pieces as follows:

  • Prairie: Mediodia en el Llano, by Antonio Estevez

  • Ocean: Become Ocean, by John Luther Adams

  • Mountains: Mysterious Mountain, by Alan Hovhaness (I. Andante con moto)

  • Forest: Forest Scenes, by Robert Schumann (Vogel als Prophet)

  • City: City Scape: Concerto for Orchestra, by Jennifer Higdon (III. Peachtree Street)

Ridgefield, United States
Yuriy Bogdanov/Unsplash
Split, Croatia
Thomas Vimare/Unsplash
Amadablam Expedition, Nepal
Rohit Tandon/Unsplash
New York
New York

CREATE. Using blank paper, pencils, markers or crayons, allow students to draw one of the five landscapes while listening to the associated piece of music. After drawing, discuss whether or not the music influenced their artistic choices.

RESPOND. Using the provided information, learn a little about the selected piece of music before listening. After listening, reflect in pairs or as a class if the music was what students expected. Why or why not?

  • Mediodia en el Llano, by Antonia Estevez: Composer Antonia Estevez tried to capture images of a prairie through sound. As you listen, think about how you would compose your own prairie music.

  • Become Ocean, by John Luther Adams: Composer John Luther Adams creates the vast, rolling sound of the ocean in this piece. The whole piece is very long, so today’s video includes part of the music together with some information about how the piece was created and what people thought of it after hearing it for the first time.

  • Mysterious Mountain, by Alan Hovhaness: This piece is an entire symphony about mountains. Today we’ll just listen to the first movement, or section, from that symphony. (If students need a movement break, they can pretend to climb the mountain for part of the piece.)

  • Forest Scenes, by Robert Schumann: The composer Robert Schumann wrote a set of nine piano pieces called Forest Scenes. Each short movement depicts a different part of the forest. Listen to this movement and see if it reminds you of something you see (and hear) in the forest. (Hint: it is an animal.)

  • City Scape: Concerto for Orchestra, by Jennifer Higdon: Composer Jennifer Higdon wrote a piece called City Scape: Concerto for Orchestra. It has three different movements, or sections, and each part captures a different part of her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Listen to the third movement, called Peach Tree Street. As you listen, notice the energy. Do you think Peach Tree Street is a busy street? Do you think there is a lot of traffic? Think about how you would try to write music to sound like the street you live on.

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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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