LESSON #2: Introduction to the Bassoon LESSON OBJECTIVES PROCEDURE Students will: • Identify the bassoon, name Introduction its instrument family, and 1. Distribute the Bassoon activity sheet (see Resources describe its physical Materials) to your students. characteristics 2. Introduce the bassoon by having a student (or two) read • Listen to examples of the the description of the bassoon from the sheet. bassoon and describe the sounds they hear 3. Reinforce that the bassoon is a member of the woodwind • Create their own double family, and using the illustration, explain there are six parts reed instrument using a to the bassoon, including the reed. straw 4. First, the musician attaches the reed to the mouthpiece bocal/crook). (or bocal/crook Once the musician begins playing, the LESSON MATERIALS air travels through the reed and the bocal into the wing • Bassoon activity sheet joint down into the boot where it makes a U-turn, and joint, • Sound recordings of the bell. then up through the long joint and out the bell bassoon • CD/mp3 playback device • Plastic straws • Scissors PRIOR KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCES Students can: • Name the four instrument families of the orchestra ARTS STANDARDS National Standards (Music K-4): • 6C, 6D 5. At the videoconference, this is the instrument that Pennsylvania Standards: Philadelphia Orchestra musician Daniel Matsukawa will be • 9.1.3: A, C playing. • 9.3.3: C 6. “Being such a big instrument, the bassoon is usually played seated, with a strap the player sits on to support the boot. Sometimes a musician, like Danny, will play the bassoon while standing up and using a neck strap to support the instrument.” INDICATORS OF Development SUCCESS 7. “Let’s listen to what the bassoon sounds like!” Students will: 8. “The bassoon can play a huge range of notes, from very • Identify the bassoon as a low notes (think tuba!) all the way to high signing notes double reed instrument (think flute!).” and a member of the orchestra’s woodwind 9. Play several of the recommended examples below and family have students describe the sounds they hear. What words • Accurately name the six do they use? Do they reflect the composer’s use of the parts of the bassoon instrument as summarized below? • Distinguish the sound of the bassoon from other • Tchaikovsky: “Chinese Dance (Tea)” from The instruments Nutcracker, Op. 71. The bassoon acts like a “joker” • Correctly explain what and plays very low and very short notes. happens to sound when a • Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf. The composer uses the tube is lengthened or bassoon to represent the stern grandfather. shortened • Grieg: “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt. Hear the bassoon in its low register play the theme along with the double basses. • Ravel: Bolero. At about 1:45 into this famous piece, you can hear the bassoon play the solo melody in its beautiful upper register, which sounds most like the human voice. • Wonder: “Tears of a Clown.” Listen for the bassoon in this background of this Smokey Robinson hit from 1967, with music composed by Stevie Wonder. 10. “Now it’s time for us to create our very own double reed instrument!” 11. Distribute plastic straws to the students and scissors, if necessary. For younger students, you may want to cut the straws in advance according to the instructions below. 12. Instruct students to squeeze one end of the straw flat. 13. Cut the flatten end into a point as the dotted line shows below. 14. Have the students place the cut end of the straw (the “reed”) on their lower lip and close their mouths gently— not too tightly—around the round part of the straw. Teeth should not touch the straw! 15. Have the students blow hard. With a little trial and error, they will be able to make a sound—just like someone who plays the bassoon! Extension for Older Students 16. Have students cut a hole halfway down, in the top of the straw as shown by the dotted line below. Fold the straw double and snip a corner of the fold. 17. Have students cover the hole with their fingers and blow. While they blow, have them lift their fingers to open the hole. “What happens to the sound that you make?” 18. “What happens to the sound if you were to add another straw into the open end of your straw to make it longer?” 19. “What happens to the sound if you cut your straw to make it shorter?” Reflection and Conclusion 20. Review the basic facts of the bassoon with the students and have them write the names of the six parts on their activity sheet. 21. To end the lesson, play the recording of Ravel’s Bolero from the beginning and see if the students can identify the point the bassoon enters with the melody.
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