Play and Sing – Shostakovich Hello Song

When OrchLab visited Arnold House in March 2018, we used a piece of music by Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich (his 7th Symphony, known as “Leningrad”) as our inspiration to create our own music.  We have used some of this music to make a “hello song”, and included some gaps for you to make music in between the singing. The song is performed here by LPO violinist Kate, LPO oboist Alice and LPO trombonist Dave, with workshop leader John singing the song. Watch the video below:

This activity can be done individually, or in a group, taking it in turns to play in the gaps.

Running the activity

  1. Watch the video and sing along with the words
  2. After each bit of singing, there is a gap of 8 bars (on the screen you can see a countdown from 8 to 1 to show this gap).  Use this gap to improvise something along to the music.  You could:
  • Sing a tune – maybe repeat the hello song exactly as it is (the gap is the right length). Or you could sing something different, with your own words, or just “la”
  • Use a percussion instrument (untuned) – if you have tambourines, shakers or other percussion, see if you can tap on the strong beats during the gap. Or, play a rhythm of your own
  • Use a percussion instrument (tuned) – if you have a xylophone or keyboard, you can improvise a tune in the gap. We are in the key of C major so just use the white notes in your tune
  • Use an iPad – using Garageband, play chords in C major in the gap.  Using Thumbjam, choose the key of C major and improvise a tune in the gap. You can find guides on how to use these apps further down the OrchLab resources page

Explore more

If you’d like to find out more about the inspiration for this song, listen to Shostakovich’s original piece.  You can hear the LPO play the opening on this page if you play the sound samples at the bottom of this page.

The piece is called Shostakovich’s Symphony No.7, and this music comes at the very beginning of the whole piece (first movement: Allegretto).  Listen to how Shostakovich changes and develops this simple tune. In Shostakovich’s piece, this music comes at the very beginning of a really huge long symphony – it is almost like he is also giving a big hello at the start of the piece. 

You could try composing your own “big hello” music. This could be a song, or a group or individual piece of music, depending on what instruments you have available. We’d love to hear any of your original pieces – email with any of your ideas.