Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky is a well-known piece of classical music which is easy to use with children in KS 2. It is a suite in ten movements based on a walk (the promenade is the recurring theme tying each image together) around an art gallery.
This first video is a warmer – it is an animated view of just a few of the pictures expressed in Mussorgsky’s music:
If children enjoy this video, which is only 1.30 minutes long, then it may be worth investigating further.
Another interesting video clip is of an artist and concert pianist who painted a piano with the “Pictures at an Exhibition”:
This video could well inspire children’s own art work. Is there something in the classroom that could be decorated with the pictures in the short term?
The following video covers the whole work – it is 33 minutes long so would still need splitting up, or perhaps just one or two images chosen! The video is easy to split up as the images represent each section with The Promenade splitting the sections. I think I would use this as an introduction to class music making – choose a few images and let children in groups make up their own bit of music for their picture. Make a whole class repetitive bit of music to link the images.
NB I would not use all of this music with children but some bits are really interesting and certainly demonstrate contrasting music styles. The bits I would be inclined to use are in blue rather than black.
The gnome starts at 1.11. I am sure children would love The Gnome. It is easy to imagine artwork based on that musical image.
The Old Castle starts at 4.45 – slow and quiet – probably not inspiring enough for children.
Children quarrelling starts at 9.43 – this, for all it’s title is quite a gentle piece
The Polish Ox wagon starts at 10.43 – dark and dramatic
Ballet of the unhatched chicks starts at 1.22 – light and fast, see: Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle, pictures of two men, starts at 15.24 – this could make a good discussion, what are the men thinking and does the music give you any ideas about that?
The Market at Limoges starts at 19.12, this is one that is suitable for use in class.
Catacombs starts at 20.31 and is a complete contrast to The Market at Limoges – this would be fun for drama, finding your way in the dark, through scary, underground tunnels etc.
With the dead in a dead language starts at 22.49
The Hut on Hen’s Legs starts at 25.05 based on the folk tale of Baba Yaga where a witch’s hut grows legs to chase children for the witch to eat. I would definitely link this music to the story!
The Great Gate at Kiev starts at 28.13, a very stately processional piece of music.
The Cumbrian Music Service has created a scheme of work to accompany Pictures at an Exhibition. This gives the background to the music, shows the inspiration for pieces of music and introduces Mussorgsky. Each piece of music is added to the pages with idea for what children could do whilst listening.