Barneblad: Grieg for kids
A monthly feature to share with kids and grandkids
Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall
Parents! Teach your kids about Norway’s favorite composer the fun way
Edvard Grieg is Norway’s most famous and favorite composer, and I love Grieg too. My own relationship to him goes back to when I was only 4. As a child, I was a big fan of cartoons, and I was often heard humming the melodies I heard in them around the house. Grieg was among them.
One tune in particular caught my parents’ attention: dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-DUM, dum-dum-DUM-dum-dum-DUM. My mother, a piano teacher, realized it was Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
My parents decided to buy me a recording of my favorite new song, and I played it over and over on my little record player. Not only was it a great piece to sing to, it was perfect for marching and stomping around.
Thus comes the inspiration for “Grieg for kids,” ideas on how to introduce your children and their friends to the wonderful world of Grieg.
A good way to start “Grieg for kids” is with a few basic facts:
1. Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen in 1843.
• Take out a map of Europe and point out where Bergen is.
• Find a picture of Bergen’s scenic harbor, Bryggen.
• Calculate how old Grieg would be today.
2. Grieg’s great grandfather was Scottish.
• Show the location of Scotland in relation to Norway. Find out what everyone knows about Scotland.
3. Grieg studied music in Leipzig, Germany.
• Show were Germany is on the map.
• Talk about transportation in those days (ship, railway, horse-drawn coach: it was a very long, slow journey compared to today).
4. Grieg fell in love with his wife Nina in Denmark.
• Point out Denmark on the map
• Share a photo of Edvard and Nina Grieg together. Here’s one, taken by the studio Elliott & Fry in London:
2> Musical magic
Now the real fun starts.
It’s time to talk about Grieg’s interest in Norwegian folklore.
Trolls, gnomes, and goblins
• Bring out a troll doll or figurine if you have one. Tell kids that they lived in the woods and mountains, that they were stupid, clumsy, and sometimes mean. The hall of the Mountain King was filled with these strange beings.
• Play a recording of “Hall of the Mountain King.” It’s now time for everyone to get up and march to the music of the trolls, stomping to the beat.
3> Dance of the elves
• Elfentanz—“The Elves’ Dance”— is another favorite Grieg piece and also great music for dancing. You can talk about who the elves were (maybe bring along a pointed cap or two), how they were light and dainty compared to the clumsy old trolls.
• Join hands to dance in a ring. Merrily hop to the music of a recording or the live piano piece. You will want to repeat this a few times for sure.
4> At Home at Troldhaugen
• The Griegs were so fascinated by trolls that they called their home Troldhaugen, the hill of the trolls. Share a photo of it: it’s a beautiful place!
• It’s now time to relax a little, just like Edvard and Nina Grieg did with all their musical friends. Why not have a cake decorated with musical notes or special cupcakes and cookies? Norwegian ones are the best, of course!
Stream some Grieg from the internet. Other good pieces for kids are “Morning Mood,” “Anitra’s Dance,” “Album Leaf,” and Norwegian Dances.
• Enjoy talking about what you’ve learned about Edvard Grieg—or just keep humming along—it’s sure to be a magically musical day!
Want to learn more about Grieg for kids? Email Lori Ann Reinhall at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the vice president of the Northwest Edvard Grieg Society and would love to talk to you!
This article originally appeared in the June 28, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.