IAML Toolbox Best Practices: Children's Corner

Why Mozart fell out of the clouds ...

(download the presentation in PDF format)

A programme of introducing children to the music library of Essen Listening to music is one of children's most popular leisure-time activities, they take part very early in musical education, play an instrument or sing in a children's choir. In the music library they can find sheet music for nearly all instruments and musical combinations, CDs with their favourite music or books on composers and other musical subjects. To advertise this special offer, the music library of Essen has developed a programme for young visitors. In a playful way they become familiar with the music library and it's media and thus get interested in music or even making music.

As target group we considered children in the age between 7 and 10 which means classes of primary schools from the second year on or groups from Music schools.
Basic knowledge of reading notes and the knowledge of some composers' names are desired.
Before we developed a concept we agreed upon the five following conditions:

  1. the programme is to be integrated into the everyday's work,
  2. it has to be handled exclusively by the staff of the music library,
  3. it shouldn't last much longer than 60 minutes,
  4. the children should get information about the music library in the form of a booklet that they may take home afterwards and
  5. there shouldn't be other expenses than the initial costs.

Up to now we haven't had any experience with the envisaged target group. Therefore we have obtained the opinion of experts from a primary school, a music school and the opera house on our concept.

They encouraged us to realize the programme that is described in the following.


Mozart comes back to earth for one day. He lands in the music library where he meets the children and discovers with them the media that in this form didn't exist in his time. Mozart's well-known preference of turning words, using codes and joking with rhymes is integrated into the role.


The whole introduction programme consists of two parts. Each part takes about 30 minutes.

1. The first part is a kind of guided tour through the music library realized as a little
While the librarian is welcoming the children Mozart appears in the background with a portable CD player. He turns up loudly and so everybody becomes aware of him. After a short exchange of words between Mozart and the irritated librarian, Mozart addresses the children. He wants to show them all the exciting things in the music library.
Further on the librarian only is brought into action when his knowledge is required.
Parts of the play are a rally with music books and shelfmarks, the demonstration of the soundproof music room and the use of the online catalogue.
But Mozart doesn't have too much time. He has only one day on Earth and he still wants to see the operahouse, the music school, the new concert hall of Essen, and so on. So finally he must say good bye.

2. In the second part of the programme the children have to work independently with the media and the catalogue. For this they get a funny little booklet with the title Why Mozart fell out of the clouds.
(Text and idea: Verena Funtenberger, Design: Elga + Gerulf Morgenstern-Hübner). Therein Mozart appears again as a comic figure who has many serious and unserious questions concerning music and the music library. The children have to know the right
answers and to follow little instructions like drawing a violin clef or their favourite instrument. A short story on the first two pages of the booklet reveals the reason of Mozart's visit to the music library: In heaven Mozart has written a new opera. It was such a great success that he was granted a wish. Mozart desired nothing more than to pass one day on earth to know if his music is still being enjoyed by the people. God snapped his fingers, the clouds divided and Mozart fell ... directly into the music library of Essen. At the end of their trip through the world of music media one of the children wins a cup with the comic figure of Mozart which one could see on the cover of the booklet. The other children have a chance to win a cup too if they create a drawing of their meeting with Mozart and send it to the music library. The programme could be realized as a contribution to the school culture project "Tonleiter" ("Scale") which was initiated by the bureau of culture of the city of Essen.
The grants were used to pay the designer of the booklet, the edition of 2500 copies and the production of 100 cups with the comic figure of Mozart.
The Mozart costume is a loan from the operahouse of Essen. The person of Mozart is played by different colleagues.
As the staff of the music library in Essen is mainly female Mozart must be played by a woman. But as the experience has shown this fact doesn't reduce the fun the children have with "him". We could start the programme in full only at the beginning of April 2005. Since then we have 2 to 3 classes monthly with an average of 25 children.
More performances would not be possible for us. That the young visitors have a lot of fun and that the programme is a good investment in the future users of the music library may be shown through some extracts from compositions of a third class of a primary school:
"... we made a trip to the public library. I felt like in a dream. Mozart has come with a time machine." (Marie) "Mozart showed us the shelfmark, but first he called it a secret sign. Then we played a beautiful game with shelfmarks. We had little plates with shelfmarks. And then we had to find the big plates with the shelfmark as fast as we could. Then we were supposed to take a music book. Then we went with Mozart into the music room. It was soundproof, and we tried it out - in groups. One group went in with Mozart, and we were waiting outside. It could be heard only very quietly. Then we went in. We were heard very quietly too. But if ever it burns and someone should be in the music room, it would help nothing if he cries for help... " (Judith) "When we arrived at a certain place, we had to line up in two groups, because we made a rally. Everyone got a card. When everybody had found a book about his instrument, Mrs. [librarian] checked one group. The other group was checked by Mozart. Both groups did everything right! That was a super trip!" (Clarissa) "Yesterday we were in the public library. There is a music library. That's the reason we were there. We met Mister Mozart ... Then we could go to the computer and see if the things we are looking for are here. For example, you could enter ‘Alexander' [a present German pop star]. Then there were all Alexander's songs the library has and if they are lent out or not" (Alexander) "... and the class 3b had to say good bye to Mozart. Then we got a booklet. There were questions in it, for example: Do children have to pay for borrowing? yes, no. The questions were super." (Johanna) "... Then finally we arrived in the music library. And now, whether you believe it or not, then Mozart came!! Mozart in person! ... Finally he was sorry but he had to go, but as present of farewell he gave us a little booklet. In the booklet were questions we had to answer. In the end we were allowed to have a look around the whole library. It was a wonderful school day." (Judith)

Text: Verena FuntenbergerStadtbibliothek Essen
MusikbibliothekHollestr. 3D-45130 Essen
Fon +49 (0) 201 42280
Illustrations: Elga + Gerulf Morgenstern-Hübner

GrafikStudio HÜGEMO, Essen


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