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Since its grand opening in the fall of 1940, Buffalo’s Kleinhans Music Hall has established itself with an international reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. Today it is considered one of the most acoustically perfect halls in the world. 

Kleinhans was built through the commitment and vision of Edward and Mary Seaton Kleinhans. Kleinhans Music Hall was designed by the Finnish father-and-son team of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, along with architects F.J. and W.A Kidd. As a prime example of the “international style” which gained popularity in the United States in the 1930s, it is a combination of structural beauty and extraordinary acoustics. The Saarinens' design influenced architects and acoustical engineers from all over the world. 

The music hall has been designated a National Historic Landmark, the highest designation of significance a site or structure can receive. 

Curriculum Overview

Using clips from the documentary, Kleinhans' Gift to Buffalo, Buffalo Toronto Public Media developed four lesson plans designed to be used in a classroom setting. Videos and accompanying resources are appropriate for use with grades 7 & 8, but may be easily adapted for other grade levels as well. Topics of the lesson plans include history of Buffalo, philanthropy & civic engagement, science of sound creative writing, and arts & architecture. 

Lesson plans are available here on the program website, and to schools nationwide, on PBS LearningMedia (pbslearningmedia). PBS LearningMedia has a national reach of 1.8 million educators, over 30 million students and a digital library of more than 118,000 classroom- ready resources. The free, online platform provides digital learning tools for preschool teachers and K-12 classrooms. The videos, images, and other classroom content that can be downloaded and saved to be used year after year.

Each lesson plan follows the same format: one or two short video segments from Kleinhans' Gift to Buffalo are to be shown to the class, followed by a related activity. The lesson plan indicates an approximate length of the lesson. Each set of materials has been designated for a specific audience, however they were created with the understanding that they may be adapted based on educator, facilitator, or audience. Please preview all online and video content before sharing the content with students.

Educator Resources

Middle School Lesson Plans (Grades 7 – 8)

 

Philanthropy & The Arts 

Students will be able to identify the world and local events that contributed to the economic boom and rise of industry during the early 1900s and how the environment impacted philanthropy and shaped the Buffalo community. Students will recognize the impact of Kleinhans Music Hall on arts and culture in Buffalo throughout history and to this day. Students will participate in a class discussion and complete a worksheet while watching Kleinhans' Gift to Buffalo

 

The Science Behind the Sound at Kleinhans Music Hall 

Students will be able to identify the architectural techniques and design elements of Kleinhans Music Hall and understand how physical elements in the building’s construction enhance the acoustics of the hall and the effect of design details in the hall on how sound is distributed and received by the listener. Students will be tasked with writing about the physical design elements that enhance the acoustics of Kleinhans Music Hall, including how the overall architectural style contributes to the concert experience from both the audience and performer perspective. 

 

Interpreters of the New Age 

Students will be able to recognize architect team Eliel and Eero Saarinen’s designs and understand how architecture and public buildings can impact communities. Students will be tasked with creating a drawing of a public community building (music hall, library, theater, etc.) in the style of the Saarinens, while thinking about a unique design for a community-shared space with a sleek and modern feel. 

 

This is My Story 

Students will demonstrate knowledge of the history and background of a chosen organization, park, and/or landmark in their communities. Students will be tasked with writing a creative essay using subject matter from individual experience, imagination, and storytelling that includes insightful reflections on their chosen subject matter.

Major funding for Kleinhans’ Gift to Buffalo is provided by Clement & Karen Arrison, The Baird Foundation, Francis & Cindy Letro and Bob Skerker, with additional funding from Bond Schoeneck & King, Peter  & Maria Eliopoulos, Daniel & Barbara Hart and Jeremy & Sally Oczek.