The Fourth of July provides countless opportunities to have children engage with music.
Here are 4 ideas for exploring musical possibilities connected to the Fourth of July. These activities are perfect for kids’ enrichment over the summer or as part of a homeschool curriculum such as music appreciation.
1. Compile a patriotic music playlist for listening to throughout the day
This is a great opportunity to introduce or remind children of the wonderful patriotic music that is such an important part of our culture. Using whatever method works best for your setting (we love Spotify for making playlists) collaborate with young ones to make a playlist of patriotic music. It might be interesting to include a variety of genres ranging from more folk music style such as This Land is Your Land or America the Beautiful to more current tunes.
2) Celebrate independence through music
Along with barbecues and fireworks children might consider what it means to gain independence. For little ones old enough to have a basic conversation about this, encourage them to express the idea of independence through song. If it helps, start with the melody of a song they already know, but with some encouragement can usually make up their own original melodies.
original photo caruba
3) Analyze the rhythm and form of fireworks shows
Fireworks shows have a particular rhythm, flow, and form. This is not random but planned. Everyone knows the end of a fireworks show is coming since it is so bombastic and serves as a climax to everything that occurred before it. But there are other moments that can trick us into almost thinking the show is over because of the way that the fireworks play with our sense of action and rest. Music can act in a similar way.
Have children observe fireworks shows online and identify the moments of action and moments of rest. See if they can mimic the rhythm of when the fireworks explode. Then have similar conversations during a show on the Fourth of July.
You can also have children create music that mimics the action and rest of fireworks using similar rhythms or create music that could be used in an imaginary fireworks show.
See if you can tell how the fireworks are timed to sometimes go along with music in interesting ways. There are special companies that specialize in synchronizing fireworks to music (a perfect segue into career and technical education for people interested in that area). Here’s a description from a fireworks software company for those interested in the advanced technical details.
Here’s a neat video clip demonstrating how a designer used a software program to scripted fireworks to music:
4) Learn about Tchaikovsky and the 1812 Overture
Almost every fireworks show on the Fourth of July ends with the 1812 Overture. It’s one of those pieces of music that is so closely associated with July 4th, so use this as an opportunity to learn more about Tchaikovsky (Chi-kav-ski) and the 1812 overture. There’s even an app for that – seriously! Check out the Little Tchaikovsky App designed for kids!
Have a conversation with children about a cannon is used in the music as an instrument. Then play this awesome online video game to test your cymbal and cannon playing skills in the 1812 overture. (Though if you have a real pair of cymbals at home – feel free to use those as well!)
Ask children why they think a Russian composer’s music is featured in a celebration of American independence. Here’s one story on why the music is a tradition in the U.S. and a radio segment on this interesting history:
Interested in some music theory and analysis? Here’s a sort of musical analysis play-by-play of the 1812 overture. These activities could be great for extending music appreciation programs and the Charlotte Mason approach.
Enjoy the fourth of July and consider trying some fun musical activities that children can engage in to celebrate our independence!
What ways do you incorporate music in your lives during the Fourth of July?