Instruments of the Orchestra Lesson | Peter and the Wolf

Last week I posted about my love of using centers in the music classroom.  My post included a complete centers unit, focused around the Orchestra Instrument Families, an important concept for all music learners.  If you didn’t see my post, check it out HERE!  You can also download the unit HERE!

When I introduce the instruments of the orchestra to my youngest students, my little Kindergarten friends, I like to start with something fun, to grab their attention.  I cannot think of a better example of this than “Peter and the Wolf” by Sergei Prokofiev.  He composed this piece as a way to teach young listeners about the instruments of the orchestra, and in my humble opinion, it accomplishes that very well!  Prokofiev wrote the original story and narration, reflecting on his childhood experiences, as well as the music (obviously!).  Over the years I have taught this piece in many different ways….here are some ideas and resources I have found that you should check out….

  • Kiddie Records Weekly Archive – If you have not seen this website, YOU MUST CHECK IT OUT!  It is ridiculously huge archive of preserved Children’s LPs of classic children’s stories.  Week 1 of January 2006 published “Peter and the Wolf” – what makes this site A-MAZ-ING is the fact that you can download any and all of these recordings for FREE, in mp3 format (most often in a zip file, because they’re so long)!  Too cool!  Here is the link to the recording of “Peter and the Wolf,” recorded in 1939 with Richard Hale and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  
  • Disney’s 1946 Animated Classic “Peter and the Wolf”– My school owns a copy of this on VHS that is now out-of-print and apparently extremely desirable, according to  New and used copies are going for like $15 to $100…really?!?!  Crazy!  This is what I use when I show it; however, after just a tiny bit of Googling, I realize the whole thing is on YouTube!  Yay!  Here is the link to the YouTube version, which is even better, since most of us don’t have VHS in our classrooms anymore anyway!   
  • Peter and the Wolf:  Fully Orchestrated CD with Book and Narration – This is a great book, if you want a most face-time approach to teaching the piece.  The illustrations are beautiful and the recording is super-quality
These are some of my ideas for introducing and using “Peter and the Wolf” in my classroom.  How do you teach instruments of the orchestra?  Do you use “Peter and the Wolf” or another method?  Please share ideas…..leave a comment!  I would love to hear from you!  

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