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My Name is Handel

Curriculum Guide

My Name is Handel Curriculum Guide
Click on a subject to view its corresponding curriculum guide


  • King George I was king of England from 1714 until his death in 1727. He wasn't English (he was German) and in fact, was disliked partly for the assumption by his subjects that he didn't even speak English (which, by the end of his reign, probably wasn't true).





  • Check out this word list from Enchanted Learning. All of these are related to castles, kings and queens.  Choose ten that you don't know and look them up in the dictionary


  • Check out this website with king and queen paper dolls to print and create!


  • Handel and his musicians performed on a barge floating down the River Thames (site includes history and pictures of the river). A barge, by definition, is "a vessel, usually flat-bottomed and with or without its own power, used for transporting freight, especially on canals." (from Here is a site that describes the different types of 18th and 19th century sailing vessels.


  • Patronage in Handel's time was how many musicians made a living. It basically was a system of support and sponsorship by royalty, or by an organization such as a church. Musicians, composers, and painters, as well as other artists, were hired and then required to produce for the benefit of their employer.


  • Discuss how this would affect the artistic culture in contrast to the practice of artists and musicians producing for their own enjoyment. What, in your opinion would be the pros and cons to each way of life?


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  • Handel and his musicians traveled and played on a barge during the celebration. Can you imagine dozens of musicians crowded onto a boat trying to play? They did it! Let's find out more about boats and how they work:












  • Read this brief article to see how brass instruments make sound.


  • Brass instruments rely heavily on harmonics, along with valves or slides, to create pitches. Every musical note has within it not only the fundamental pitch (the one you recognize as the note being played) but also many other notes above that fundamental. The organization of those other notes, and their relative strengths or weaknesses, give each instrument its unique sound. Brass instruments, in addition, can play notes in the harmonic series (a set pattern of notes beginning with the fundamental) with the same fingerings or slide position. Bugles have no valves to press or slides to move, so a bugle's notes include only those in the harmonic series, beginning with the fundamental pitch "C". 


  • To see for yourself harmonics in action, try this experiment. You will need a piano (not a keyboard). First, press down slowly and gently (NOT making a sound with the keys) the following notes in order going up and hold them: middle C, G, C, E, G. Keep them held down! Press the right pedal with your foot and hold it down. Now have someone else play firmly and quickly (loudly!) the C one octave below the middle C you have held down. You should be able to hear all of the notes you have held down ringing as well as the note your friend played! That shows how the bottom note played actually has many different pitches in it and when the other keys are held down, their strings are able to vibrate along with the bottom note! Pretty cool!


  • Here is a great article that explains further the phenomenon of harmonics and how they relate to brass instruments.



  • England is part of the United Kingdom, an island nation in Western Europe. 

  • Here's a great site with lots of facts about the United Kingdom.













  • The climate of an area is its general weather pattern, including temperature and precipitation. Compare the climates of England and Italy and discover why they differ. Use this Italy resource and this England one and/or an atlas to find information.


  • England is an island and Italy is a peninsula. Use a dictionary and atlas to define these terms and find 5 more of each in the atlas.

  • Define these geography words as well: channel, fault line, lowlands, volcano, strait, wetlands, marsh, plains, canal.


Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego is a fun geography adventure game. You can find it here:


Language Arts
Language Arts

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Poetry is a type of imaginative writing that uses sound, rhythm and language to express feelings and thoughts, and elicit an emotional response from the reader. Some poems rhyme, but many do not. Explore poetry at the Poetry website for kids and find a great poetry unit study that includes different literary devices (such as imagery and personification) here. ​​

Use an encyclopedia to learn about these three poets/writers of the 18th century who were writing around the time that Handel was composing. William Blake "Songs of Experience- The Fly", Samuel Taylor Coleridge "To Nature", William Wordsworth "I wandered lonely as a cloud".


  • A series of books on different composers and their lives, beginning in childhood, by Opal Wheeler is a wonderful addition to a composer study. She has written one on Handel ( Each one includes a CD and is especially written to be fascinating for children.


  • Here is a list of popular kids' books in England. Many are ones that are popular in America too.  It just goes to show that great literature is a treasure anywhere!


  • Write a journal or diary entry by a musician in the patronage of royalty. Think about how it would feel to compose at will for specific occasions, and not based on your own inspiration. Composers under the patronage system were secure in their jobs, but had a "boss" that was often very demanding. Think of a situation that may have occurred and write about it in first person. The website has this to say about patronage:

"Any discussion of a baroque composer's artistic philosophy should be tempered, at least slightly, by the reality of their lives. In modern times, artists frequently earn a living producing exactly the kind of art they are moved to create. Accordingly, we often think of the artist-and the degree of his or her artistic inspiration-as the starting point for a work of art. Throughout much of the baroque era, however, composers only earned a living writing music if they were fortunate enough to be on the payroll of a political or religious institution. The musical needs of that institution, therefore, dictated the music the composer produced. Bach wrote the number of cantatas he did, for example, not necessarily because he found the form inspirational, but because of the liturgical demands of the Leipzig church that employed him. When viewed in this light, baroque music can provide a fascinating window into history."


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Research and explore these British painters of the 18th century: 

Three types of representational paintings (art that is meant to represent something in a way that is recognizable; the opposite of “abstract art”) are: portraits, landscapes, and still life art.
A portrait is an artistic representation of a person, focusing on the face and facial expression.  Portraits can be photographs, paintings, drawings or sculptures.

  • Try one!  A wonderful portrait lesson which includes creating emotion with color.

 A landscape is an artistic rendering of natural scenery, usually in wide view, including mountains, trees, sky, weather, etc.  If figures are included, they are usually small and secondary to the natural world.

still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate objects such as jars, fruit, books, religious symbols, or instruments often arranged by the artist.

​Interactive still life site


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The Baroque period (1600-1750): “Music which is melodious yet so constructed as to reflect the "perfect order" of the universe: that is the essence of the baroque. In the words of baroque composer and theorist Johann Joseph Fux: ‘A composition meets the demands of good taste if it is well constructed, avoids trivialities as well as willful eccentricities, aims at the sublime, but moves in a natural ordered way, combining brilliant ideas with perfect workmanship ("

Characteristics of Baroque Music

  • well-ordered, proper, royal

  • contrasts of dynamics, instrumentation (use of solo and ensemble), and timbre

  • the first significant period of organized melody and harmony



There are many Baroque pieces of music that are recognizable to the average listener.  Baroque pieces are used in weddings, churches, movies, elevators, etc.  See if you recognize any or all of these popular and beautiful works of music (and as you listen, use this listening guide printout to record your observations):





In recent decades musicians and historians have become interested in discovering the sounds of the music as they were produced in the time period in which they were composed.  Thus, many recordings and performances are now done on “period” instruments.  


  •  Listen to this violin blind listening test- old instruments from the Baroque vs. contemporary instruments, judged by famous violinists.

The harpsichord is a keyboard instrument with a very unique sound.  Instead of using hammers to hit the strings within, as a modern piano does, it uses small picks to pluck the strings.  This was a very popular instrument during the Baroque period, and is still used today in many performances.  The piano as we know it today had not yet been invented in the 17th century.  Explore these links to hear a harpsichord and learn more about it:


Opera began in Italy in the 16th century. Italy was the opera capital of the world during Handel's time and he wrote many operas in Italian.  Opera is now written and performed in many different languages, but for a time Italian (being a beautiful and pure language to sing in) was preferred.  Giulio Cesare is Handel’s most popular opera.  It is an opera seria (or serious opera) and has a tragic story.  Listen to these excerpts: 


  • “Va tacito e nascosto”- The role of Giulio Cesare is sung here by a woman.  Since women were not allowed to perform on stage in this time period- it was considered improper- roles were written for men who sang in a woman’s range.  These roles are now often sung by mezzo-sopranos, who are female singers with richer, darker and slightly lower voices

  • “Da tempeste”-Seen here with more modern and humorous staging. The fast runs in this aria are called “coloratura” and are very common in Italian opera of this time when music was highly embellished.  It takes a lot of energy and breath control to sing these!


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Archimedes was a great Greek mathematician. His most famous discovery was the Archimedes' principle which states "that a body immersed in a fluid is subject to an upward force (buoyancy) equal in magnitude to the weight of fluid it displaces." Legend says that Archimedes discovered the principle of displacement while stepping into a full bath. He realized that the water that ran over equaled in volume the submerged part of his body. Through further experiments, he deduced the above mentioned Archimedes' principle. The legend goes further and tells that Archimedes was so excited with his discovery that he hopped out of the bath, and rushed naked into the street yelling triumphantly, "Eureka!" "Eureka!" (Greek word for 'I have found it!).  ​

Learn more about Archimedes at this site.  

  • Here is a video about Archimedes and his inventive contributions to Greek culture, especially to wartime materials and weaponry.


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