November 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm #14772
I am working on O Magnum Mysterium with my High School Band. They are getting all of the notes and rhythms. How do you go about getting kids to connect to this kind of music without preaching? I know my personal connections to it but not sure it is a good venue to share religious beliefs. I certainly do not mind sharing but not sure it is appropriate. So how do we approach this music?November 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm #14774
I don’t see any reason why you need to mention the religious aspect of it. Just emphasize the beauty of the music–that should be enough.
If the kids ask, you could mention the general religious connection, but it is inappropriate to talk about your personal connection.November 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm #14785
I think they can connect to a great piece of music regardless of the meaning. I don’t think knowing the meaning of the music is going to make them play it more musically or with more expression, unless they feel strongly about the image behind the content. Shaping, phrasing, dynamic contrast are common to all music.
However, I will, from time to time, tell them the meaning behind the music so they can put it in historical/informational context. Mostly just for informational purposes. Sharing your own personal feeling about the religious meaning behind the music is most likely not relevant or necessary. Everyone connects to something in a different way, so let the kids find their own connection.November 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm #14786
On a side note, what does your instrumentation look like? I keep considering this piece.November 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm #14790
2 flutes, 1 oboe (superstar), 4 clarinets, 1 bass cl, 3 altos, 1 tenor, 1 bari, 2 horns, 7 tpts, 3 tbone, 1 euph, 3 tuba, 5 percNovember 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm #14791
I think it important to know why a piece of music was composed and what its purpose is. O Magnum Mysterium is a Latin Christmas responsory. I don’t think you need to delve deeply into it, but maybe hit on the fact that the piece is about the mystery and wonderment of Christmas (“Oh great mystery and wonderful sacrament that animals should see the new born Lord lying in a manger!”), and even if students don’t choose to believe in Jesus or the circumstances surrounding his birth, they can still try to express the feelings that it was written to convey. If you were playing Angels We Have Heard on High, you probably wouldn’t need to discuss the meaning behind it, but I think in this case, since the title is in Latin, I think it important that students are informed about its intent.
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