Listening Lesson: 'The Swineherd Suite'


Age Range: Elementary

Learning Objective: Students will use a listening map to notice and describe the timbre of various instruments in a musical story called The Swineherd’s Suite.

Many composers over the years have set fairy tales to music. This is the first of three lessons where we will listen to different musical fairy tales.

1. Composer Boris Tchaikovsky used music to tell of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Swineherd. The musical telling of the story is split into ten parts, or movements. 2. Use the chart below to guide your listening. Each movement is short. You will hear the timbre, or unique sound, of different instruments featured in each movement. The middle column in the listening chart shows you one instrument to listen for in each movement. Raise your hand each time you hear that instrument.

3. For each movement, write down the name, draw a picture, or say out loud other instruments you hear.

4. As you listen, think about the following questions:

• Do you think the instruments represent different characters in the fairy tale?
• Each movement has a slightly different mood. As you listen, think about what words you would use to describe each section.
• Can you make some guesses about what the fairy tale might be about? Scroll past the listening chart to get to a video with the music for The Swineherd Suite.

Listening chart
Listening chart
Katie Condon/images from Wikimedia Commons

4. Here is the video that has the music.

5. After listening to the musical version, think about the plot of the fairy tale. What do you think it was about? Here is a very short summary.

A poor prince tries to win the affection and love of a princess. But he discovers she is selfish and that they do not value and appreciate the same things.

Read a longer summary of The Swineherd here or read the full fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen here.

Love music and stories? Check out the latest Classical Kids Storytime

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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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