This post is just so I can throw together all of my general ideas on getting kiddos interested in classical music... and then this series will have run its course!
General ideas on getting kiddos interested:
Exposure, exposure, exposure! Pandora.com. It's free! If you don't have any classical cd's about and really aren't sure where to start, start with Pandora. Create a new station by typing in "Johann Sebastian Bach" or "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart." Spend an hour or two near your computer and "Thumb's Up" whatever sounds nice to you, and you're on your way to a free, always available source of classical music. Let it play while the kids are playing with Play-doh, building Legos, or coloring in their Dover coloring books :)
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Use compilations that have been already been made for you. As I've mentioned before, I'm not above listening to classical compilations, especially as background music. You don't have to go nuts making 80's-style mix tapes of good music! Take advantage of your local library and look for discs like these:
For the most part, compilations like these have well-loved favorites and standards that are enjoyable for the general public.
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Chat about it. Kids are used to hearing music accompany a story, especially in movies, so it won't be a stretch for them to imagine a story while listening to an exciting piece of music. Simply saying, "Wow! I wonder what the story is here?" while the drums are crashing or the strings are racing may spark a fairly creative conversation! Or make an open-ended remark about what it means when the music gets louder or faster. I remember being in the car one day when an ominous-sounding piece came on the radio. It wasn't familiar to me, so it was kind of fun when Ruth asked from behind me, "What's happening in this scary music?" We could make up whatever story we wanted!
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Watch it. Hello, YouTube?? (just remember to preview stuff before sitting your kiddos down in front of it...) If you can, choose orchestral performances where the musicians look like they're having fun! That always help keep the attention of littles. Also, if you can, choose performances with close-up camera shots of the conductor and musicians - kids looking at an orchestra for the first time, from afar, might have no idea what's really going on up there. I also like to find YouTube performances in which the musicians are children.
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Read about it. Two of our favorite music-related picture books are The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, by Karla Kuskin and Zin, Zin, Zin! A Violin!, by Lloyd Moss.
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Tie it in...
to your history lessons, literature lessons, Liturgical Year, etc...
It's the first day of Winter? (Dec 21, this year!) Break out Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
You've read the story of Sleeping Beauty? Listen to the Sleeping Beauty ballet by Tchaikovsky.
Check out Holst's The Planets in conjunction with your study of the solar system.
Patriotic holidays fall flat without John Philip Sousa and anything western demands a listen to Aaron Copland's Hoe Down from the ballet Rodeo.
For the Liturgical year, Handel's Messiah is the obvious place to start for Christmas and Easter. For Marian holidays, look for Bach's Magnificat.
you get the idea!
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If you're just getting started, let them hear stuff that's loud or surprising. It seems to get their attention a little more than pieces that are relaxing and ethereal.
Here's a link to one of the pieces that the kids enjoy hearing over and over again... (turn up the volume for the full effect!)
In The Hall of the Mountain King, by Edvard Grieg (my kids love this one!)
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Live Performances. Go to any that you can!! And for a bonus, see if you can chat with the musicians afterwards!
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"It is so important for people at a young age to be invited to embrace classical music and opera." - Luciano Pavarotti.
(sheesh! - he shouldn've written this series, not me!)