Flat Handel and the Mystery Tent Part II: The mystery tent was the perfect place to bring together curiosity and empathy in the music class. Students were curious why Handel was sneaking up into the attic to play music. When they discovered…how Mr. Handel was furious at him and how he forbade Handel jr. to have any musical instruments in the house or to even go to any other house where instruments were kept, they immediately felt sad for him. What was so bad about wanting to learn how to play an instrument? I wrote this question down on our “I wonder” list to explore. Since many of our students’ parents are doctors or lawyers, they could relate to having an important dad. However, they were surprised to learn that Mr. Handel was not just a surgeon, but a barber as well! What a strange combination!
Can you feel it?
Rather than discuss it out loud, I had students record their thoughts in Book Creator. I asked them, “Have you ever felt like Handel jr and had something that you REALLY wanted to do but your parents wouldn’t let you do it?” Expecting the usual whining about how they wanted this toy or that toy, or wanted to go here or there, I was caught off guard when the students returned with much more poignant thoughts:
- “My Dad wants me to be a doctor just like him, but I want to be chef. He says I wouldn’t make enough money at that.”
- “I really want to play soccer, but my mom always says I’ll get hurt.”
- “I really want to sing in Broadway kids, but my parents said it costs too much money so I had to quit.”
- “I like to read my books at night and my mom won’t let me so I have a flashlight under my covers so I can read.”
Empathy Fuels Curiosity
I wonder if the students’ empathy was greater because they had a voice or because they were able to instantly respond to my questions and record their thoughts on their iPads? The children wanted to find out what happened when little Handel went along with his father to the Duke’s castle and played the musical instruments. Did his father stay angry with him for long? What adventure did little Handel have at the castle?
I was telling the story up to this point, and then I said, “If you want to know more, you have to do the research, and research always begins with great questions. What do you still want to know?” Instantly there were tons of questions to add to the “I Wonder” chart and they were “chomping at the bits” to find the answers. I used this little book, “Handel, The Story of a Little Boy Who Practiced in an Attic” from www.gutenberg.org. It’s a free book. I also had a few questions from the Arts Alive source. Dividing the class into teams, I gave each of the teams two questions to research on specific pages. (I had prepared the questions and pages ahead of time, but don’t tell them!) When the class came back together, they had the facts to tell a fascinating story about Handel. . . But what about the 12 hour traffic jam? or the big fireworks to go with the music? Why did the Duke stand during the Hallelujah Chorus? One question created another question.
Curiosity Supercharges Learning
The most pressing questions seemed to be about life back in Bach and Handel’s day. What did children play with? Why did men wear wigs? How often did they take a bath? Did they have flushing toilets? What did they do for entertainment? How did they survive without electricity. Was life hard? Why did Handel wear a dress to bed? What was it like to live and work in a castle? What did boys and girls wear back then? Did they have to wear fancy clothes too? We pulled up Google Earth and located Handel’s birth place and where he lived in London most of his life. The fashion of the day made the kids laugh. 🙂
Have you heard about Flat Stanley? It’s been around forever and is a way to connect children around the world with literacy. Move over Stanley… Flat Handel is in town!! Similar to Flat Stanley, I wanted my students to make a connection between Handel’s world and present day. I had children color a little cartoon of Handel and tape him on a popsicle stick. Using Book Creator, children took photos of Flat Handel all around the school and then create a presentation telling what he didn’t have back in his day, and what he might have used instead to do the same thing. Curiosity and Empathy in the music class is a powerful thing!! Watch this video to see one student’s observations about Flat Handel.
Here’s a bulletin board for all of the questions and discoveries during the Handel Unit. Click to enlarge.
Curiosity didn’t stop there!
Comparing our modern world with Handel’s world brought even more questions. I’m convinced the iPads enabled this to happen. It became a tool with which to think and imagine. Taking pictures of Flat Handel became an imagination feast fueled by technology.
And then it happened!
The students were really, really thinking about the implications of not having modern conveniences and a group of boys asked, “How did Bach and Handel play a pipe organ without electricity? What a fantastic question!
“I don’t know! Boys, do some research and find out how the organ can make sound without electricity.”
Hee, hee, hee!!
|Date:||February 4, 2016|
|Date:||February 4, 2016|
|Date:||February 4, 2016|
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