Beethoven, New Spec, Edexcel

I have really enjoyed teaching this piece to my students in Year 10. Not only is it great to listen to, but it is packed full of so much that they can study and learn about.

My challenge with Year 10 this year is that I have a class of 28! I wasn’t able to split this in two and so rather than put students off I decided to have them all together – and it is quite a challenge. I have had to really re-think how I teach and lessons are a great deal more discussion and teacher-led than maybe I would like.

So I decided in 2017 that I was going to really think through best approaches to teaching this class and making sure that they are practically learning as well as listening to me. I decided that the Beethoven piece was a perfect place to start. So if you fancy trying this with year 10 then please do and let me know how you got on – this is  nothing revolutionary, but it was a great two lesson activity.

  1. I went through the piece with the textbook and typed out every key term that came up, every section of the piece, relevant bar numbers and any other key features. This came to about 40 words.
  2. I then photocopied in different colours so that I had 4 distinct sets of these words.
  3. At the start of the lesson we chatted over the basics again, Sonata Form, Classical Period etc. I then gave out the packs and with Beethoven playing in the background students had to put the words in order as to where they came in the piece as well as lay out the structure on the floor. They were in groups of 7 and this got them chatting about what the words mean and where they happen. I also gave them spare paper so that they could add their own words.
  4. Once they had completed this we chatted over the structure in more detail and we looked at when and where things happen in the piece and discussed what Sonata Form “looks like” as well as what it then “sounds like”.
  5. To end that first lesson we then completed some review questions on the Beethoven piece to check they had taken in all of the key terminology.
  6. Next lesson I began by talking through exam technique and I used that old classic DR T SMITH. I asked them what this stood for and they quickly worked out that it represented Dynamics, Rhythm & Metre, Tempo etc. etc. We chatted over why this is useful and I then got them back in their groups.
  7. Their task now was to sort the words into the DR T SMITH categories and this created a great deal of discussion – “well we know where the Pedal Note is, but is that melody or harmony?” “Where does Articulation go?” They even asked to listen to Beethoven whilst they worked.
  8. Once they had completed this we discussed their answers and also looked at key areas that had less going on and looked at why this was – there wasn’t much in the texture column or under dynamics.
  9. The discussion actually went on a great deal and we then went back to the scores to see if we could find more out about Rhythm & metre, texture and dynamics.
  10. At the end of the lesson I gave them a review sheet to complete at home which has exam style questions and next lesson we are going to complete a listening exam.

This lesson went really well and just emphasised not only Sonata Form, but also a great number of key terms and also the Elements of Music in General. It got them chatting and moving around and listening. They seemed to enjoy the lesson and I will use that visual style of learning again.

If you would like the word document of words then please visit:

https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/understanding-beethoven-new-spec-edexcel-11481842?utm_campaign=RES-2072-1869888&utm_content=author-referral&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

All you then need is a photocopier and scissors! Hopefully it will work well for you also. What a great piece to study!

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