Lesson Plan: Introducing Für Elise Flash Mob 


Helping Students Explore Contrast to Learn About Interpretation


• Lesson Plans 

• Set Up Tips

Interpretation outline iii

Flash Mobs involve unexpectedness. In Für Elise Flash Mob, Beethoven’s theme barely begins when, out of the blue, a swing bass breaks in and leads us into improvising. 

Für Elise Flash Mob guides students to take off on Für Elise in a style very different from that of Beethoven’s “classic.” The contrast that results offers students a fun opportunity to learn more about some basic elements of contrast—dynamics, touch, timing, listening and imagination. 

Here is an example of a lesson plan for helping students use contrast to explore interpretation and expression. This plan asks students to experience the music first, and then develop a conceptual understanding.

1. Engage Students:

Teacher Asks: "Class, see if you recognize some of this music." 

Play the short Parts 1 and 2 of Für Elise Flash Mob, observing expression markings:

Play the opening of Fur Elise with a graceful, flowing line 
Ritard suddenly to a "bated-breath" pause, and
After a judicious wait, pick up unexpectedly with the swing bass.

Bounce the bass along, with indicated staccatos and slurs, and give it a little groove by anticipating or delaying beats to taste. 

2. What Did We Hear?

Q: “Can anyone name or play the melody?” 
"Did anyone hear a change after the first few notes of Fur Elise?"

Lead students to the idea that this change involves “contrast.” Draw analogies to contrasting ideas, experiences, and objects familiar to students. 

3. Hear Again, Listening for Contrast:

After students have briefly discussed the above, ask them to listen for contrast as the theme and bass are played again. 

Draw attention to differences. For instance, playfully over-dramatize the theme’s elegance and the bass’s "coolness." Or, ask two students to play these parts, “hamming up” their rendition of dynamic markings. 

4. Analyze:

Ask additional questions, such as: 

Q: "Might the change after the first notes of Für Elise surprise some people?"
Q: “What things make the bass line so different from Beethoven’s melody?"  

Encourage students to describe with words or by examples they play qualities like expressive feel, register, touch, rhythm, timing, accentuation, contour. 

5. Apply Observations: 

Through leading questions such as those above, students “get” that it’s a bit surprising when the peppy bass cuts in on the smooth Für Elise melody. Moreover, they can see that degree of contrast influences degree of surprise. The more graceful the gracefulness, and bouncier the bounciness, the greater the contrast—and the bigger, and more fun, the surprise!

Thwarting expectation with sudden, unanticipated contrast intrigues students. It motivates them to experiment with: 

Q: "How do we make the “feel” of Beethoven's Fur Elise melody stand apart from the Flash Mob bass?” 
Q: "How do we get the melody to flow?”  
Q: "How do we drive the bass?” 

Für Elise Flash Mob offers many learning opportunities in addition to improvisation. 

Activities with Für Elise Flash Mob, such as the above, help encourage reflection based on listening, imagining, and experimenting, that furthers students’ development of sensitive, expressive playing.

by Cynthia Pace

See: 9 Easy Set-up Tips for Für Elise Flash Mob

© Copyright 2016-2017 by Cynthia Pace

Please feel free to suggest additional lesson activities, below, for helping students learn about interpretation and expressive playing. 

© Copyright 2017 by Lee Roberts Music Publications, Inc.