Yes, in my family, it seems that Beethoven's birthday is its own little holiday. No, we do not have a party or exchange gifts, but we do remember that on December 16th a most magnificent man, one who changed music forever, was born.
My grandfather was, to say the least, a fan of Beethoven's music and life. He celebrated the man's life and found in him a genius with such a life's story. It is this love and appreciation for music that was passed down to my mother, uncle and, of course to me!
Now, as a teacher, I use Beethoven's birthday to celebrate the holiday season in a new way. All month we learn about the man and listen to his music. On his birth week, I do a thematic learning approach and try to fit in all things Beethoven in our lessons: from penmanship practice using Beethoven quotes and developing our understanding about fact and opinion using short articles about his life in reading groups to practicing our math using Beethoven-based word problems.
Each year, my classes enjoy this extra attention to a man whose music they know and love. This year I have a class of very interested students who even want to have a mini recital of Beethoven's music. A handful of students will play excerpts of pieces they know on a variety of instruments. What a fun way to end our 2009 year! I can't wait.
I never would have imagined that a long, forgotten birthday would have had such potential to keep my students focused and excited all the way to the holiday break. But that seems to be what is happening. I love it!