Johann Strauss II (1825-1899) was the son of a well know composer, Johann Strauss, Sr. There was not a lot of love between father and son. As a matter-of-fact, it seems that the father may have been jealous of the son. Johann Sr. did not encourage his son's musical aptitude and at one point threw a bit of a temper tantrum by telling a local casino that he would never play there again if they hired his son's orchestra to perform.
Johann Jr. made himself famous by composing dance music - waltzes were his forte; He composed over 500 of them! A waltz is dance music in 3/4 time and is characterized by an emphasis on the downbeat so that you can hear "omm cha cha" pattern in the accompaniment. The most famous of Struass' waltzes in The Blue Danube", but most people at least recognize the tune of "Voices of Spring" and "Tales From Vienna Woods".
|Johann Strauss, Jr.|
Because waltz timing is so strict, waltzes are a great musical form to help young children understand about steady beat. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started with your musical foray into the wonderous world of waltzes:
Blue Danube Waltz.
1. Have children form a circle. When the music begin, have children "skate" around the circle. When you hear the "cha cha" portion of the music, let the children twirl around in a circle.
2. Sit in a circle. Have the children practice patsching their legs and saying "1-2-3" in time to the patsching. When they are comfortable with that, have them patsch on beat one and clap on beats 2 and 3, speaking the beats as you do it. Start the music. Have the chidlren patsch legs in time to the music. When that is mastered, have them patsch on beat 1 and clap on beats 2 and 3 in time to the music.
3. Give half the class rhythm sticks or hand drums and the other half maracas or jingle bells. Let the drum/sticks group play on beat one and the bells/maracas group play on beats 2 and 3.