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Bach and the Pipe Organ Curriculum Guide

Learn about Johann Sebastian Bach
Click on a subject to view its corresponding curriculum guide

Prominent People

​Study the following famous people who were alive during the same time as Bach.  You could even write a report with the information you learn.

Bach was alive from 1685-1750.  Be amazed when you view this list of inventions created during Bach’s lifetime.  
Timeline of Important Events During Bach’s Life

1687Isaac Newton publishes his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
1692Salem witch trials take place in Massachusetts
1697: The earliest known first-class cricket match takes place in Sussex
1703Saint Petersburg is founded by Peter the Great and is the Russian capital until 1918
1707: Mount Fuji erupts in Japan for the first time in 10000 years
1709: The Great Frost of 1709 marks the coldest winter in Europe in 500 years
1718: The city of New Orleans is founded by the French in North America
1726: The enormous Chinese encyclopedia Gujin Tushu Jicheng of over 100 million written Chinese characters in over 800,000 pages is printed in 60 different copies using copper-based Chinese movable type printing
17401741: An historic Famine in Ireland takes place



​Bach in Space
Bach’s music is in outer space right now!  It is currently on a spaceship called the Voyager 1 and has been since 1977.  Read all the facts on this NASA website.  
Here is a list of all the famous pieces of music on the Voyager 1.
Make a rocket ship out of a plastic bottle.  You could even put a picture of Bach on the rocket!
All About Eyes
In his older age, Bach became blind.  Learn more about your eyes and how they work by watching this video.
These websites share many interesting facts about the eye:
Biology for Kids – Sight and the Eye
Your Amazing Eyes

Use this worksheet to test your eye knowledge!
The pipe organ is an amazing instrument because it can mimic all the instruments of a full orchestra.  Watch these interesting videos that explain:

Locate a pipe organ in or near the city where you live.  They are many times in churches.  Take a trip to see the pipe organ and hear it played in person.  Here is a wonderful and entertaining overview of the organ!
Make your very own pipe organ!
The organ makes sounds because air is pushed through its pipes.  Similarly, the pan flute makes music as air passes through it.  It’s fun, quick, and easy to make, and you can learn how to make it here.


Take a look at these facts and pictures about Germany.
Johann Sebastian Bach lived his entire life in the country of Germany.  Find Bach’s country on a map or a globe.  What is the capital of Germany?  Print and color the German flag.
Print this map of Germany.  Use an atlas to mark and label the following cities where Bach lived:

  • Eisenach (birthplace)

  • Luneburg

  • Arnstadt

  • Weimar

  • Koethen

  • Leipzig

The Black Forest is found in southwest Germany.  It is a 100-mile-long forest so dense that sunlight cannot even make its way through the dark fir and spruce branches to shine on the forest floor.  It is believed that the cuckoo clock originated in the Black Forest.  Here’s a great cuckoo clock craft made from a milk carton.
Make a Black Forest Cake – YUM!
Germany is famous for its soft pretzels.  This is a delicious recipe that is very fun to make!

Language Arts
Language Arts

​The German Language
Learn to speak like Bach!  Here are common German words and phrases.

Bach studied the Latin language in school.  Latin is an old language that is not spoken anymore.  It originated around Rome, Italy, long ago, and many languages spoken today are derived from Latin such as French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Count to 10 in Latin

Famous German Writers
Read all about these world-famous writers from Germany:

The phrase “pull out all the stops” comes from organ playing where the organist brings into play all the pipes in order to create the fullest sound possible.  This phrase is a figure of speech meaning we do everything possible to make something happen how we want it to.  This figure of speech is called an idiom.  An idiom is an expression that takes on a figurative meaning when certain words are combined, which is different from the literal definition of the individual words.  Here is a list of some common idioms.  What do they mean?  Can you think of some others?

  • “Hit the hay”

  • “Up in the air”

  • “Piece of cake”

  • “Costs an arm and a leg”

  • “Break a leg”

  • “Rule of thumb”


​Baroque Beauties
There were many beautiful pieces of artwork created during the Baroque Period from 1600 to 1750.  Baroque paintings are grand and dramatic and show movement.  Here are famous Baroque artists and some of their most magnificent works:
Artist: Rembrandt
Piece: “Return of the Prodigal Son”
Artist: Caravaggio
Piece: The Calling of Saint Matthew”
Artist: Peter Paul Rubens
Piece: “A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning”
Draw or paint your own artwork using the Baroque style and display it in your home for all to see.
Drawing with Your Senses
Listening to music can spark creativity when it comes to artwork.  Take a larger piece of paper and divide it into 4 equal boxes, labeling each box with the following 4 pieces of music: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5Handel’s Hallelujah ChorusScarlatti’s Sonata K. 141Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas Opera.  Play each piece of music, drawing in its corresponding box what pictures it brings to mind as you listen.  The music could also evoke a specific emotion, and you can write that in the box as well.  Be sure to use lots of color in your pictures!  After you are finished, compare your different drawings and explain them to someone based on what the music sounded like to you.


​Baroque Period
The period of time from the years 1600 to 1750 is known as the Baroque Period.  Composers during this time wrote music that is very organized and precise with decorated, ornamental, and exaggerated sounds.  Here are famous Baroque composers and some of their pieces of music.  Read about the composers, see what they looked like, and listen to their music at the links below. 
Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
Musical Piece: Violin Concerto in A minor, RV 356
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Musical Piece: Water Music, Suite No. 1
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Musical Piece: The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (watch it scroll!)
Composer: Claudio Monteverdi
Musical Piece: Coronation of Poppea – 1. Sinfonia (an opera)

The range of volumes in music is called dynamics.  Baroque music is known for using terraced dynamics.  This means that in a piece of music the volume will stay the same for a while, and then all of a sudden it will change to a different volume.  Italian words are used to direct dynamics in music.  “Forte” (pronounced for-tay) means loud, and “piano” (pronounced just like the instrument) means soft.  Read more about dynamics and how they are used differently in various styles of music.  Listen for the sudden changes in dynamics in this Baroque Piano Concerto by Bach.
Music Master
Johann Sebastian Bach was a master of all things music.  Considered one of the greatest composers of all time, Bach was an excellent singer and also played many instruments.  Not only did he play the organ and the violin, but he also mastered the clavichord and harpsichord.  The clavichord and harpsichord were popular during the Baroque Period and were pre-cursors of the piano.  Learn more about them and the history of the piano in Video 1 and Video 2.  As you watch and listen to the videos, notice how the keyed instruments sound both alike and different.  Which one is your favorite?
Instrument Families
Instruments are divided into different groups called families.  Families are formed based on the way instruments sound, the way they are played, or the material they are made from - such as metal or wood.  There are 5 instrument families, and these links provide excellent information about each one:

The organ belongs to the keyboard family.  Watch this incredibly talented organist play on the Mander Organ at The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola in New York City.


​Mathematician Masterpiece
Carl Friedrich Gauss is a famous German mathematician who lived during the 1700’s just like Bach.  He wrote many books, including Disquisitiones Arithmeticae which is considered one of the most influential math books ever written.  Learn about him and see his picture here.
Mighty Memorization
Bach had a knack for memorization.  Sharpen your memorization skills of the following:

You can also use the above links to construct practice worksheets.
Watch this video to understand and learn multiplication tables easily and quickly.
Baroque Story Problems
When Bach was younger, he walked 200 miles to Luneburg.  It takes about 2,250 steps to walk 1 mile.  

    1.  How many steps did Bach take to get to Luneburg?

On average, it takes most people about 15 minutes to walk 1 mile at a moderate pace.  
    2.  At this rate, how many hours did it take Bach to walk to Luneburg?  
    3.  How many days would that be? 
**Answers to Baroque Story Problems**

  1. Steps to Luneburg: 450,000

  2. Hours of walking: 50

  1. Days of walking: 2.08

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