The Trumpet of the Swan is an extremely musical book, though it’s not until about halfway through that the soundtrack kicks in. Every song or composer mentioned in the story is real, and this provides subtle encouragement to young readers to go and discover great music. There’s one exception: a melody written by E.B. White called “Oh, Ever in the Greening Spring” which in the book is a love song written by Louis the Swan for his sweetheart Serena.
Learn a bit more about the songs mentioned in The Trumpet of the Swan, including the several numbers that were recorded by Louis Armstrong, the after whom the trumpet-playing Trumpeter Swan in the story is named.
Recordings of some of the songs played by Louis in the book as well as sheet music can be found at childrensliteraturepodcast.com/music. These recordings can be played while reading the book so children can hear the tunes, or the sheet music can be used for a live performance.
Activity: Louis’ Repertoire
Have students research one or more of the songs or composers mentioned in The Trumpet of the Swan. Students could produce a written report, give a presentation, or give a musical performance.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Ludwig van Beethoven
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster
“Cradle Song” by Johannes Brahms
“Gentle on My Mind” by John Hartford
“Now the Day is Over” by Sabine Baring-Gould and Joseph Barnby
“Oh, Ever In the Greening Spring” by E.B. White
“Ol’ Man River” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II
“Summertime” by George Gershwin
“The U.S. Air Force” by Robert MacArthur Crawford
“There’s a Small Hotel” by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart
“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”