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A Unique Musical Way to Honor Mom on Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day! As a musician and music teacher, I am always finding ways to relate music to everyday experiences. Today, I have a special musical way to Honor Mom on Mother’s Day. The following is an excerpt from my online course called Music for Holidays & Special Days.

A Unique Musical Way to Honor Mom on Mother's Day (with a $500 Giveaway!)


Mother’s Day Lesson from Music for Holidays & Special Days

Mother Goose by Ravel

In 1910, French composer Maurice Ravel originally composed Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose) as a piano duet for 2 young children named Mimi and Jean. He dedicated the work to them, as well. The duet premiered on April 20, 1910 and then was transcribed for solo piano that same year.

Both piano versions have the subtitle “cinq pièces enfantines” which means “five children’s pieces.”

  • Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant (Pavane of Sleeping Beauty)
  • Petit Poucet (Little Tom Thumb/ Hop o’ My Thumb)
  • Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes (Little Ugly Girl, Empress of the Pagodas)
  • Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête (Conversations of Beauty and the Beast)
  • Le jardin féerique (The Fairy Garden)

The next year, Ravel orchestrated the piece for harp, string section (violins, violas, cellos, and double basses), woodwinds (2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, and 2 bassoons), 2 French horns, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tam-tam (gong), glockenspiel, xylophone, celesta, and jeu de timbre. A jeu de timbre is a glockenspiel operated by a piano keyboard.

The eleven numbers of the orchestrated Ma mère l’Oye are:

I. Prélude
Très lent
II. Premier tableau – Danse du rouet et scène (Spinning Wheel Dance and Scene)
III. Deuxième tableau – Pavane de la belle au bois dormant (Pavane for Sleeping Beauty)
IV. Interlude
V. Troisième tableau – Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête (The Conversation of Beauty and the Beast)
VI. Interlude
VII. Quatrième tableau – Petit Poucet (Little Tom Thumb/ Hop o’ My Thumb)
VIII. Interlude
IX. Cinquième tableau – Laideronnette, impératrice des Pagodes (Little Ugly Girl, Empress of the Pagodas)
X. Interlude
XI. Sixième tableau – Le jardin féerique (The Fairy Garden)

Songs My Mother Taught Me by Dvorak

Another perfect musical piece for Mother’s Day is Když mne stará matka zpívat ucívala (Songs My Mother Taught Me). Czech composer Antonín Dvorak’s song is the fourth of seven songs in his collection of Gypsy Songs. The short melody tells of a woman passing down the songs she learned to her own children. The lyrics were written by Adolf Heyduk in both Czech and German. It was originally written for voice and piano, but is often recorded for solo instrument (such as violin or cello) and piano, as well.

English Translation

by Natalia Macfarren

Songs my mother taught me,
In the days long vanished;
Seldom from her eyelids
Were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children,
Each melodious measure.
Oft the tears are flowing,
Oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.

If you enjoyed this Mother’s Day music lesson, head over to get the full Music for Holidays & Special Days course. 

Music Lessons for Holidays & Special Days online course




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(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

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