"Twilight" Music Provides Link Between Past And Present

Music appreciation lessons can use modern phenomena like "Twilight" to motivate students.

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Twilight

For those of you who have heard of the phenomenon that is "Twilight", and the sequel "New Moon", you've already taken the first step into being in "the know". The series provides an instant bridge for the generation gap. Most pre-teens to teens have read, "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyers, or have at least seen the movie. The movie features some beautiful contemporary classical music that is similar to that of Debussy. The piece, called "Bella's Lullaby", is my favorite. Most of my teenage students have it downloaded to their music players. or are at least familiar with it. This is a sign that when great music is offered, no matter what the genre, it will be appreciated.

When teaching music appreciation, introduce "Bella's Lullaby" along with Debussy's "Clair De Lune".  Both songs are included in "Twilight".  Music appreciation will be more interesting for students if they can relate it to current pop culture. I find that popular music peaks students' interests, and creates a mood to be open to more genres.  With a young generation that has been taught to love a band for one second and move on, learning to appreciate the past is even more precious.  It can give them a guide to help them recognize truly great music in the future. 

Compare and contrast classical music composer Debussy's "Clair De Lune" with contemporary composer Carter Burwell's "Bella's Lullaby". While listening to each piece, list the instruments you hear. How about dynamics? Can you hear a crescendo, and do you know what it means?  Where is the climax?  Can you hear a recurring theme? Why is Debussy important to us today?  What was the social context when Debussy wrote his piece?  Are there any similarities in today's society?  How did Debussy market his music?  If he had a MySpace page, how many hits do you think he would have?  In other words, make it fun, make it current, and make the past come to life.

Embrace the current music scene, and give it a relationship to the past. It will help open the doors for the next generation to find the beauty that exists in the classics, and spawn new educated music connoisseurs.   

Music Lesson Plans:

Musical Instrument Appreciation:  Students learn to categorize and recognize various instruments.

Classical Music Appreciation (Grades 3-4 / Lesson 1): By means of Benjamin Britten, this lesson introduces orchestra instruments. This is a fun and interactive lesson.

VH1 Music Studio: These are lessons in music for grades 7-12.  Students can listen to music icons of the past and present.

Let's Play Again:  Students use percussion instruments to learn about dynamics and timing notation.

Introduction to Contemporary Classical Music:  Students learn about melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, meter, and cadence while listing to John Cage.

Debussy:  Students learn facts about Debussy's life, and explore some of his music.