Listening lessons for Halloween

14 October, 2015

With Halloween coming up very soon, today I'm writing about some of my favorite listening lessons to use for this fun time of year! There are lots of "spooky" pieces of music that are perfect for Halloween! Here are a few of my favorites.

Halloween listening lessons: Blog post with links to YouTube videos and suggestions for the music classroom!

"In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Grieg:
This is one of my all-time favorite pieces! The story itself, of Peer running away from the trolls and the Mountain King, is very engaging, but then the music really draws students in. So many musical concepts can be taught through the piece: tempo and dynamics, as it starts slow and quiet and gets faster and louder throughout, crescendo, steady beat, and quarter rest.
You can listen to the piece here:

Katie and Lindsay from Cowgirl Compositions created this awesome set that includes a Powerpoint as a listening map to this piece:

I also included a dance to "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in this set:

"Danse Macabre" by Saint-Saens:
This piece is definitely fit for Halloween, as it is about a fiddle player (otherwise known as "Death") who calls skeletons from the grave to dance. The harp at the beginning of the piece plays 12 times--striking midnight. You can hear it here:

You could use this piece to study different instruments, to discuss the imagery of a piece, and to practice 3/4. It would be a great piece for them to practice their 3/4 conducting pattern!

"Night on Bald Mountain" by Mussorgsky
This is another great piece for imagery! The theme of the piece is derived from a play called "The Witch," written by a friend of Mussorgsky's. Here is a performance:

The theme of the finale could be used to practice tam-ti, or dotted quarter/ eighth, as well as eighth rest. You can purchase a slideshow for that listening lesson here.

"This is Halloween" by Danny Elfman
I had to include this song...because I am a HUGE Danny Elfman fan, and of course, I love "Nightmare before Christmas." Here is a video of the song:

On top of it just being an awesome song, you could use it to practice tika-ti (2 sixteenths/eighth), as there are plenty of tika-ti's, and the theme goes like this:
This is Halloween, (ti-ti tika-ti)
This is Halloween, (ti-ti tika-ti)
Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! (tika-ti, tika-ti, tika-ti, tika-ti)

"Monster Mash"
This is just a fun, old-fashioned song! Here is a video of the lyrics:

Here is a great book you could use with the song (click the picture to view it on Amazon):

Monster Mash: A great book for your music lessons during Halloween! Blog post includes lots of other great suggestions for Halloween!

Whether or not kids have heard this song, it's a great addition to any Halloween lesson!

Looking for more Halloween ideas for your music classroom? Check out this Pinterest board I recently created:

What are your favorite Halloween listening lessons? Feel free to comment below!


  1. Great pieces! My 4th graders will be able to hear the Kansas City Symphony perform the "Hall of the Mountain King" on our field trip in a couple days (Friday)! We're all excited :-)

  2. Great blog post, so many new ideas! We will be using Danse Macabre since Saint-Saëns is our October composer of the month! I also found out that Der Erlkönig scared some 4th graders if show the Dieskau video with all the facial expressions- but they saw how important they were in vocal music! I also love your Halloween set, my kids love singing "Skin and Bones"!

    1. Oooh...Der Erlkonig is a great piece! Thanks for the suggestion, and for your kind words! :)


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