Classical Kids Music Lessons: Nocturnes
LISTEN Audio Instructions
Need ideas for easy and fun at-home music learning? Here's our daily Classical Kids Music Lesson, featuring music by Chopin, Mendelssohn and more.
Target age range: Grades K-8 (some support may be needed for younger listeners)
Today we will listen to some music inspired by nighttime.
1. There is a very special kind of musical piece inspired by nighttime called a "nocturne." Practice saying that word: nocturne.
2. Many different composers have written nocturnes. Some nocturnes are written for orchestra, voice, or several different instruments, but most often, they are for solo piano. Today we will listen to a few and notice common features.
3. Every nocturne is unique, just like every musical composition. But they often have three defining characteristics:
• A legato (or smooth) melody. Sometimes the melody in a nocturne is called "cantabile" (cahn-TAH-bee-lay). Cantabile means "singing" in Italian. Even though the melody in a nocturne is played on piano, it often sounds like singing.
• Arpeggiated chords in the lower register. This means the notes underneath the melody smoothly roll up and down.
• A calm, peaceful feeling
4. Now, listen to a little bit of five different nocturnes. Use the listening chart to see if you hear the three main characteristics of a nocturne. Some nocturnes might only have one or two of these characteristics. Videos for each piece are below the chart.
• John Field's Nocturne No. 5 in B-flat Major
• Frederic Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2
• Fanny Mendelssohn's Nottorno in G minor
• Leopold Godowsky's Nocturnal Tangier
• Pop musicians write nocturnes, too. Here's 'Nocturne' by Billy Joel.
5. Want to listen to a few more Nocturnes?
• Nocturne in C Major, by Francis Poulenc
• Night Piece (Nottorno), by Benjamin Britten
• Nocturne Op. 6 No. 2, by Clara Schumann
Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.