Surprise Symphony Lesson Plan

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Use this lesson to help your students examine Franz Joseph Haydn's 'Surprise Symphony.' A group activity is included for students to create skits of real-life situations that correspond to the musicality of 'Surprise Symphony.'

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain why Haydn's work is called Surprise Symphony
  • identify and describe musical components used create humor and surprise in Surprise Symphony
  • connect the musicality of Surprise Symphony with a real-life situation that invokes the same humor and surprise

Length

1.5-2 hours

Materials

Curriculum Standards

Please note that each state has different standards for music. Please consult your state's standards to ensure proper alignment.

Instruction

  • Play selected sections of Surprise Symphony (Symphony No. 94 in G Major) for students. Be sure to include pieces of each of the four movements, focusing on the second movement.
  • Have students discuss the emotions they felt while listening to the music. Ask them to identify any surprises they encountered in the rhythm, tone, etc. of the music.
  • Tell students they will be examining Surprise Symphony in today's lesson.
  • Provide students with copies of the Haydn's Surprise Symphony Analysis text lesson, and read the 'The Surprise Symphony' and 'Symphony No. 94' sections as a class.
  • Pause and discuss the following questions with students:
    • How did the movements in Surprise Symphony intrigue listeners?
    • How did Surprise Symphony help define orchestral music for many years after its creation?
  • Continue reading the rest of the lesson as a class.
  • Discuss the following questions with students:
    • What specific movement in the Surprise Symphony earned the masterpiece the name 'surprise'?
    • Why do you think Haydn included a fortissimo beat in a song that was mostly quiet and peaceful?
    • How did Haydn use musical composition to inject humor into a piece of orchestral music? How can humor be created with music instead of words or actions?
  • Provide students with copies of the lesson quiz to complete. Review the quiz together and provide clarification as needed.

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