Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beethoven Lives Upstairs

Christoph is a little boy in Vienna who has just lost his father. His mother needs to rent out his father’s office space to make a living and Ludwig Van Beethoven moves in while he is writing his ninth symphony. Christoph doesn’t know what to make of this eccentric gentleman and writes letters to his uncle, a music student, about the disaster that is the musical genius. The book is written entirely in letters between nephew and uncle and sprinkles bits of historical facts into the story. As the story unfolds and at his uncle’s prodding, Christoph finds his opinion of Beethoven changing and the reader sees Christoph maturing and softening with compassion.

This is a fantastic book to include or even introduce in your study of classic composers. As I said, the book is written almost entirely in letters, have your child read the letters from Christoph and you read the letters from the uncle.

Then check out the audio by the same title produced by Classical Kids (BMG Kidz). Allow your child to listen through a few times (the audio is abridged and the children will pick up on this very quickly). After they've listened a few times encourage your child to pay attention to the music in the background. Ask them to write about the mood of the song and Christoph's mood. You can stop the CD after each letter if necessary. You can also have them draw a picture, abstract if possible so as not to stretch the lesson out farther than necessary.
Check out some other classical CD's from the library and discuss the mood of various songs. Also, don't forget to pick up some biographies of Ludwig Van Beethoven and discuss what liberties Barbara Nichol may have taken with her historical fiction.
Check and see if your local philharmonic or symphony offers special times or shows for children. If you live near me, our local philharmonic is very child friendly and offers several children's shows throughout the year. The conductor turns and talks to the children, he's very good with the children.
Here are some additional resources for Beethoven Lives Upstairs. There is a movie of this available as well but I have never seen it so I can't give a recommendation on it.

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