Skip to comments.Five Ways to Introduce Concert Music to Children
Posted on 04/12/2012 5:49:18 PM PDT by Borges
The standard repertoire of Concert Music is music written primarily by dead Euro-males between roughly 1650 and 1900, music typically heard in the rather formal environs of a concert hall. Yes, this music is often referred to as classical music, which is as useless a phrase as real imitation margarine! When we call something classic, we are identifying it with the ideals and restraint of ancient Greek art, which immediately rules out the great bulk of concert music, which as- often-as-not is filled with schmerz und schmutz, sturm und drang, angst and exaltation. Even if we use the word classic in its loosest permutation to indicate something exemplary whos to say that the phrase classical music shouldnt apply equally to Classic Jazz, Classic Rock and even, painful though it may be to contemplate, Classic Death Metal/Grindcore. So: a pox on the phrase classical music. Concert music it is.
And why should we want to introduce our children to concert music? Because it constitutes some of the greatest art our species has ever cooked up, musical art that informs, edifies, educates, entertains, inspires, and ultimately packs a toy shops worth of joy that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
1. It is a truism that children will read if they are read to and if they see their parents read. It is incumbent upon parents to set an example by listening to concert music at home and in the car (the latter might require some negotiation, but it is my experience that it CAN BE DONE). Dont be afraid of playing the same piece over and over again; familiarity breeds affection.
(Having said all this, I would suggest that parents do not play their children just one type of music to the exclusion of all others. The distinctions we have created between concert music and rock n roll, and jazz and so forth are on the whole meaningless to children. They tend to just like music all music which is how it should be.)
2. Invest in some decent percussion toys and encourage your kids to play along with recordings and videos. Yes, Im aware that this can drive an adult up a wall, which is why we should do it with them. This makes us active, not passive participants in the musical process, and its more fun than you might think. As for insulting Bach or Mozart or Beethoven by doing this; my friends, theyre dead and beyond insult. Besides, do you really think playing along with a recording is more insulting than the disco arrangement of Beethovens Fifth Symphony that was featured in the movie Saturday Night Fever? I rest my case.
3. Rent/buy/download and play cool movies like Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Disneys Peter and the Wolf and Fantasia 2000. Each episode of Disney Juniors Little Einsteins series focuses on a different piece of concert music and teaches all sorts of musical terminology as well. My three year-old son and five year-old daughter love them.
4. Go to local orchestral concerts TOGETHER, in particular childrens/family concerts. Outdoor festival concerts are even better, because the kids can run around and move to the music. Try to listen to the pieces on the program before hand. Music literacy is akin to written literacy, and a little (even a tiny!) bit of preparation pays off big time in terms of intensifying the experience.
5. Get a piano. It doesnt have to be an 811¾ Steinway D (list price around 130k); a little spinet will do. Put it in a place where the kids can bang on it without making the rest of the family crazy. When its time for piano lessons (at age 6 or 7; no need to rush) the piano will thus be an old friend and not a new torture device. And speaking of lessons: no one is ever too old to take piano lessons. Mom or dad (or grandma or grandpa, whomever) should think about taking lessons and practicing together with the kids. It is seriously a bonding experience like no other.
(For our information: a piano is made out of wood, medal, leather and felt. It breathes. It is real. Its mechanism physically follows the will of the players body. An electric keyboard is made out of plastic and circuitry. It is not real. It does not breath. It has no place in your house or apartment. But it makes so many different sounds! So does a cat in a microwave: does sonic variety justify popping little Boots into the micro? But we dont have room for a piano. Yes you do. But my child can practice on a keyboard wearing earphones, so we dont have to listen. Oh, thats a GREAT message to send your child: go practice, but dont make us listen to you. But pianos have to be tuned. So?)
Recording starter kit. Here are some great works wonderfully performed to start out with.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Brandenburg Concertos; Trevor Pinnock conducting, on Archiv
Wolfgang Mozart, Symphonies Nos. 39, 40, & 41; Neville Marriner conducting, on EMI
Ludwig (my friends call me Louis) van Beethoven, Nine Symphonies; John Eliot Gardiner conducting, on Archiv
Camille Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals; Charles Dutoit conducting, on London
Sergei Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf; Carlo Rossi conducting, narrated by Boris Karloff, Vanguard
Clasic Warner Brothers cartoons are scored with tons of classical music...
1812 Overture with cannon
“The standard repertoire of Concert Music is music written primarily by dead Euro-males between roughly 1650 and 1900.”
Wrong. It was written by extraordinary musical geniuses. This gramscian “race, classic, and gender” rubbish is tedious.
The American Classical Orchestra in NYC caters to kids. It’s a neat organization, and good client of mine.
I think film soundtracks got me interested in orchestral music. Plus some of the Rock from the 70s like Rick Wakeman and Emerson, Lake amd Palmer.
Put on the 1812 Overture when the baby comes home! BLAST it like my Dad did!
btw, classical was the ONLY music in my home growing up. Well, at least until Dad came home from work!
Didn’t see your post before mine. Wow, are we siblings?
When I was three, my favorites were “Poet and Peasant” and “Light Calvary overture.” I used to march around the living room and make up my own words.
Thank You, Daddy!
Remington Steele got me to watch old movies. I know slightly OT....
Ours was “In the Hall of the Mountain King” (Peer Gynt) , “Nutcracker” and “Grand Canyon Suite”. We would BEG for Dad to play those!
Oh, and we danced too! Good times.
btw, my 24 yr old daughter texted me last night wanting to know which version of “Romeo and Juliet” I played for her when she was growing up. (Prokofiev)
The old Popeye cartoons were great, too. They introduced me to Von Suppe’s Poet and Peasant Overture.
Oh I LOVED Peer Gynt! And I loved SCARY music like “Danse Macabre”, “Night on Bald Mountain”, and “Symphonie Fantastique”!
I didn’t get into Mozart till recently, as a pianist. bac then, I liked it Bombastic, Loud, and in a minor key. (I was a weird little kid! hahaha!)
7) Is the oboe player at 4:49 Zooey Deschanel? PDQ Bach - Beethoven Symphony No. 5
While the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony receives all the glory (trite notoriety?), may I suggest the second through fourth movements? The entire symphony should be listened to as a whole, if possible. If not, listen to the parts-break it down for young listeners-describe the theme that runs through the entire symphony, listen for the way distinct instruments are introduced, each falling back on the central theme; describe the goosebumps when the transition from third to fourth movements occurs.
Clasic Warner Brothers cartoons are scored with tons of classical music...
that’s how i got into it too and leanard bernstein’s chidrens concert. there is a traveling show that plays with symphonies that shows the cartoon on the big screens in the concert hull while the symphony plays the music.
classical is still the background music of choice along with movie scores and we have a great classical music station kvod 88.1 in denver.
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