Ludvig van Beethoven: Kids connect with his music via Google Doodle

Ludvig van Beethoven: The prodigious German composer from the late 18th- and early 19th centuries is honored Thursday with a Google Doodle in his birth month.

Google
The 245th birthday of Ludwig Von Beethoven is celebrated with a Google Doodle

Da-Da-Da-DAAAAAH! Thursday’s Google Doodle marking the 245th anniversary of composer Ludwig van Beethoven's birth strikes the right note with kids by engaging future concert goers with an interactive experience that teaches them about the composer's best-known pieces and sheet music.

Many musicians and conductors are ecstatic because they say it helps bring classical music out of the background and back to center stage where Beethoven would have demanded it be.

The tech wizards at Google composed a musical puzzle to honor Beethoven. They also came up with the whimsical storyline of an inconveniently placed pile of horse manure, a windblown set of scores ending up in a tree, and the opportunity for users to reconstruct passages from some of Beethoven's masterworks.

Is the story in the Doodle true?

“It’s a charming fiction,” writes Jeremy Yudkin co-director of the Beethoven Research Center in Boston in an email response.

However, Mr. Yurdkin was not charmed, adding that “It's a kindergarten representation of one of Western civilization's greatest and most serious artists. If Google wanted to mark the date of Beethoven's birthday, it could have done so with one of the few remaining genuine portraits of the man, rather than with a cartoon figure.”

Others disagree. “It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant and clever,” says Barbara Barstow, former artistic director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony in an interview. “And we needed it. Classical music needed this. Kids love Beethoven because they all know ‘Da Da Da Da!' [from the Fifth Symphony]. They really get his passion. That’s the riff that woos them.”

Ms. Barstow says that this kind of representation of Beethoven is a boon because, “I’ve said it before and it’s still true that America is running out of audience faster than it is running out of musicians, so this kind of thing is exactly what we need to engage young audiences and build a future for classical music.”

“While we are teaching children how to play classical music, we are not building audiences,” Barstow says.

George Marriner Maull, who founded The Discovery Orchestra in 2006 in New Jersey, explored the Doodle during an interview and echoed his colleague’s thrill and concern.

“Oh, this is fantastic! It encourages people to listen carefully to the music and then figure out how to put these little bits of score in the right order,” says Mr. Maull.

A 2014 Bachtrack study, titled “Classical Music Statistics: A changing of the guard,” showed that of 16,500 concerts performed, Beethoven’s works held five of the top ten most performed classical works.

Maull says that playing and listening are not one in the same.

“One of the biggest issues facing classical music, beyond how it’s financed, is that while kids are learning how to play, they’re not learning how to listen to classical music,” Maull adds.  “The reality is that music has been a background thing for generations. We have trained people not to pay attention to the music because it’s just an enhancement,” Maull says. “Whereas people like Beethoven actually expected you to give his work your undivided attention for prolonged periods of time.”

Were Beethoven alive today, Maull says he would be shocked to learn that most people will not sit through the five minutes it takes to listen to just the first movement of his Fifth Symphony.

“The more detail that we notice the richer the listening experience can become and that’s what Discovery Orchestra is all about,” Maull concludes. “Giving people the listening skills that help people really connect with classical music. It’s not to provide more jobs for musicians so much as it is to change the lives of those who learn to listen.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Ludvig van Beethoven: Kids connect with his music via Google Doodle
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Music/2015/1217/Ludvig-van-Beethoven-Kids-connect-with-his-music-via-Google-Doodle
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe