Students in first, second, and third grade have been listening to and learning about Danse Macabre by French composer Camille Saint Saens. Danse Macabre is French for “Dance of the Dead.” Perfect for the Halloween season!! We have learned (or reviewed) that a composer is someone who makes up a song and writes it down using music notes. We also discuss that music can tell a story, and that many songs have “themes” in them. Danse Macabre, for us, has a “skeleton theme” and a “ghost theme.” The ghost theme is smooth and soaring, like a ghost moaning and flying. The skeleton theme is chopping and bumpy, like a skeleton’s rattling bones! Sometimes the skeleton theme is even accompanied by a xylophone, to imitate the sound of bones.
In first and second grade, students listen to the song and place velcro-backed pieces onto a map of the piece as we listen. In third grade, students each have their own individual “board game” of the song, and they use a bingo chip to keep track of where we are in the piece as we listen. In second and third grade, we have watched a real orchestra playing the piece!
Students in Mrs. Hayne’s second grade class watch a real orchestra play Danse Macabre and do their movements along with the music.