Music in Ancient Greece
Ancient Instruments, Music Videos, Games and More!
Dear Classical Wisdom Kids Reader,
Hello! And welcome to another week of Classical Wisdom Kids. We are so glad you are here!
Those of you who already know us, know our goal. Each week, we try to highlight a different component from the ancient world. One week we might focus on philosophy, another history, science or math. Some weeks we delve into the realm of mythology... and then other times, that of poetry, art and today... music.
Music was an absolutely essential part of the ancient world... one that is at once captivating and yet still relatively unknown. However, by uncovering this exciting element of the Classical era, we can truly time travel and shed some light on what life might have been like for our ancient ancestors. (Or at least, what it might have sounded like!)
And through doing so, journeying back in time, we learn about the fundamental building blocks of music and the instruments we have used to express ourselves down through the ages and to this very day.
We have a LOT of exciting features in this issue...including printable worksheets, discussion points, activities, and our special section: Games created by Elizabeth Smith.
We also have a Go Further Section, for adults and older kids with more in depth research on ancient music and mathematics, reconstruction, as well as extra bonus materials, including video podcasts with scholars (usually reserved for our Classical Wisdom Members).
If you are completely new to this project, welcome!!! You can take advantage of the free trial offer below and see what all these extras include, or check out some of our past issues.
But before you get into our story and games below, please enjoy this special treat.
Join Argentine luthier and musician Alberto Magnin and Classical Wisdom’s Kristin Deasy, as they take you on a musical journey straight from the Patagonian Mountains...
Those of you who would like to see Alberto’s reconstructed instruments, can watch him and Kristin discuss (& play) below.
And now onto our Classical Kids learning adventure for this week… with music from the ancient world!
All the best,
Founder and Director
Unlock Classical Wisdom Kids! Enjoy our FULL members’ resources, including printable worksheets, game ideas and activities BELOW, by supporting our work and becoming a member today:
Music in Ancient Greece
For the Greeks, music was something magical. There are several legends and myths about Greek music. In one myth, the god Hermes made the first lyre out of shell horn and gut strings. In the story of Orpheus, he used music to soften Hades's heart and rescue his wife from the underworld. Some philosophers even believed that music ruled the universe.
Music was everywhere in Ancient Greece. Greek poetry was sung and the plays were performed with music. During battles, horns and trumpets were used to inspire the soldiers and to give orders. Religious ceremonies and public events had bands of musicians. Choirs were very popular, especially during festivals. Music was played during symposiums and in the countryside.
Music was very important in education for kids. The ancients thought it created balance in the soul and was good for character. They built concert halls, called the Odeon. Musicians themselves were important, too, and there are many monuments honoring great artists, especially those who had won musical competitions in festivals such as the Olympics.
There were string instruments, such as the lyre and the harp, and many wind instruments, such as the aulos. The pan pipes were very popular and there was also a bronze trumpet as well as a water organ. The ancients had many types of percussion instruments, including drums, tambourines, and even tap shoes!
While the Greeks wrote what their music sounded like, they did not have music scores. Even so, experts have been able to restore and replicate many of their instruments. There are some melodies that were found on a pillar, so some classicists think we know what the music sounded like... but others aren’t so sure! All we know for certain is that the ancient Greeks loved music.
Street musicians with different ancient instruments: Kohlos, Aulos, Krotala and Rhoptron
Think musical chairs…but with a twist.
Set up chairs in a circle. There should be one less chair for the number of youth participating (10 youth = 9 chairs).
Prior to starting the game, ask the youth to make a list of “moments”. Moments one might experience, such as winning the lottery, walking on hot coals, a tightrope, crossing a finishing line, modeling in a fashion show, graduating from college, grocery shopping, feeling sick, walking in a parade, or investigating a haunted house…
Create a set list of songs that match each moment on the list. (Example: spooky music for investigating a haunted house…circus music for the tightrope walking).
To start the game:
Play the music and announce the moment. Have youth act out the moment while walking in a line - as a group - around the chairs. Give youth some time to walk “in the moment” before stopping the music. When the music stops, the youth must hurry to find an open chair to sit on. The child left standing - without a chair - is out. To start the next round, remove one chair, begin the music and announce the next moment. Youth will continue to act out moments-and repeat the process until one child wins the last remaining chair.
Match that Moment
(1-4 player game)
Prior to starting the game: Write one moment - or emotion - on each index card (no more than twenty cards). You will also want to create a set list of music that matches the moments.
On the floor, or a table, scatter the cards with their word side facing up.
To Start the Game:
Start the music. Once the music starts - youth will listen to the music while quickly searching the scattered pile for the best matching card. Each player will have grabbed a moment card by the time the music has stopped. The youth will show each other their pick. The group (or adult) will decide on the best match.
The player with the best moment /song match gets to keep their card. The player with the most moment cards at the end of the game wins.
Orpheus Freeze Tag
One player is “it” AKA Hades. Hades stands at one end of the yard, at the edge leading to the upper world. The group will stand at the opposite end of the yard, the furthest point in the underworld. This game is played with music.
The object of the game is to - as a couple - reach the upper world. The first team to do so wins their freedom from the underworld.
To Start the Game:
Hades will face the group. Hades will control the music. The music will randomly last anywhere from a few - to several seconds at a time. The group will work in pairs of two. The partner teams will hold hands. While the music is playing the groups of partners are free to move towards Hades (the upper world). When the music stops they must all freeze.
If Hades catches even the slightest movement after the music has stopped, Hades will chase the couple(s) back to the furthest point of the underworld. If Hades catches any couple, that team is out. A team not holding hands is out. However, if that team makes it back to their starting point before being tagged, they are considered “safe” and still in the game. They will try again to reach the upper world.
The first couple to touch the upper world (Hades) wins.
Let Little Readers Read!
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