Classically Speaking, Kids are in Tune! (page 2)
Classical music is a natural for kids. It isn’t something that you have to “introduce” or “expose” your children to, chances are they’re already well acquainted with it. If your child watches as much television as most American children, s/he has been introduced and exposed to classical music through cartoons and commercials. One of the most celebrated cartoons in history, Bugs Bunny, frequently employed classical music in its episodes. The music of Richard Wagner comprises all of the music in “What’s Opera Doc?” The music in “The Rabbit of Seville,” is Giocchino Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville. Composer Franz von Suppé’s Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna is the ever-present theme in “Baton Bunny.” In Walt Disney’s classic Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, the musical scores are entirely classical. In addition to these and many other Disney films, Warner Bros. also regularly included classical music in their animated cartoons. Animated by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna in the late 1940’s, Tom and Jerry’s “Cat Concerto,” featured the music of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, and won an Oscar for Best Short Subject. You can view the “Cat Concerto” online: http://www.turnerclassicmovies.com/Multimedia/Popup/0,,9900,00.html
Enjoying Classical Music At Home
Children readily embrace classical music. It is a part of their daily routine. They do not find it boring, stuffy or highbrow. Here are a few out-of-the box ways to enjoy classical music at home:
- A game of follow-the-leader gets twice as silly when it happens during a Johann Strauss Jr. Waltz. Break a toy? Why not grieve properly to Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette?
- Tiptoe through the house during the Pizzicato-Polka, a beloved composition by Joseph Strauss.
- Sit opposite your child and engage in a non-verbal conversation by using only your facial expressions to a Beethoven Piano Sonata.
- Ask your child to conduct you in a kazoo solo, or the family in a kazoo-only concert - even if the maestro is all about volume and speed, the experience itself will be fun.
- Try spinning in circles for one minute to Bizet’s “The Top” from Jeux d’Enfant. Or, dance for one minute with your child during Chopin’s Minute Waltz.
- You can march toTchaikovsky’s “March of the Wooden Soldiers” from Album for Children. For early learners, follow the story line of your favorite ballet, and assign the roles to stuffed animals.
Orchestras for Children
Many orchestras have websites designed especially for children, offering learning tools, games and concert information. Three examples are:
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
New York Philharmonic Kids
Symphony orchestras often program family concerts and offer tickets at a lower price than what you might spend at the movie theater. Attending live performances with children provides an important opportunity to share their excitement about music. It also presents an opportunity for them to reflect on their preferences and if invited to, to share their opinions. For example, it might be interesting to know if your child prefers the sound of the trumpet in an orchestra to that of the piccolo. Or that the sound of the cello makes your child feel calm, or that she finds the sound of the trombone to be exhilarating.
Music can encourage self-expression. If you ask your child how a given piece of music makes her feel, it may help to identify and broaden her emotional vocabulary.
Concerts are not only about listening. Featuring dancers, puppeteers, actors, and singers, they can be visually beautiful too. If your child is hearing impaired, concert halls often have devices available to assist you. Orchestras involve teamwork and communication, just as many athletics do. The players often have to discuss the musical intricacies of turning a phrase in much the same way the players on a team have to discuss how they will orchestrate a play on the football field or basketball court. And, albeit slightly less colorful, the concert dress code is a kind of uniform.
Exploring Classical Music with Children
Once your child has listened and observed how an orchestra makes music, the adventure begins. There are many styles of classical music and many composers to choose from, you cannot go wrong. The Internet has a several classical music databases that are easily found. Searching the name of the composer or piece will provide plenty of information to help you narrow your selections. Stores like Barnes and Noble and websites like Amazon.com allow you to listen to several tracks before you buy, so you’ll know before you leave the store or website if you like what you’re hearing.
Reprinted with the permission of the Parents' Choice Foundation. © Copyright 2012 Parents' Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.
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