Happy Birthday Mozart! Group Class Idea

In celebration of the 250th birthday of Mozart this year, I held a special birthday party at my February group class. The only catch was that I didn’t tell the students whose birthday we were celebrating. Throughout the course of the evening, they collected clues and at the end had to figure out whose birthday it was. You can view several pictures from the class here on my website. Here’s how it worked:

I split the group of 14 students into two teams. Throughout the class, we alternated between a variety of games and worksheets that the students had to complete. For each team that finished first or gave a correct answer (depending on the activity), they received a specified number of points. Once they had accumulated 25 points, they received a clue about the person whose birthday we were celebrating. Here’s where we kept track of the points:

I listed the specific games and worksheets that we used, but the same format could be followed with any games and worksheets of your choosing. I’ll be posting some of these specific games and worksheets in following posts.

Here are the clues that each team could collect as they accumulated the necessary points:

1. Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophillus were all part of this composer’s given name. All of these given names mean the same thing –“Beloved of God.”

2. He was born and died in the same country, located in Europe. He was 35 years old when he died.

3. Although he lived a rather short life, he composed over 600 works, including more than 50 symphonies, 25 piano concertos, 12 violin concertos, 27 concert arias, 26 string quartets, 15 Masses, and 21 opera works.

4. His father was an accomplished musician and composer and taught both his son and daughter how to play the pianoforte.

5. He composed his first minuet at the age of 5 and his first symphony at the age of 8.

6. Because of his constant travels as a renowned musician, he eventually learned to speak 15 different languages.

7. One of his compositions was a set of variations on the popular French folk tune, Ah, vous dirai-je, Mama – known today as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

8. He died while composing music especially requested for a Requiem (a kind of music that choirs perform at funerals). As he grew increasingly ill while composing, he eventually became convinced that he was composing the music for his own funeral.

9. When he was just a boy, he traveled to Rome during Holy Week. He heard the Pope’s choir sing, Miserere. It could not be heard anywhere else, because no other choir was allowed to sing it. It had never been printed, and nobody outside the choir had ever seen the music, which was kept carefully guarded. When he went to bed that night, the music kept playing over and over in his head so that he could not get to sleep. So, he got up, pulled out his paper and, by the light of the moon, wrote out every note of Miserere.

10. He loved the music from Turkey, and composed a special piece – a Rondo – to sound like the music played in that country.

At the end of the evening, each team had to use whatever clues they had received and the resources I provided (several general music encyclopedias and books on composers) to determine whose birthday we were celebrating. If the team turned in the correct answer, each person on the team got to enter their name in a drawing for a CD by that composer. Both teams had a lot of fun, worked together very well and even came up with the correct answer! This fun, non-stop activity format could be used to celebrate the birthday of any composer – provided you use different clues, of course! 🙂

Share and enjoy!

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