The 7 Notes of Introducing kids to Classical Music in a Fun Way

by Alenka

DO. Do, pick a composer, do pick a melody.

Our favorite CD is Beethovens Wig 5 – Sing Along Piano Classics CD.  The length of each classical piece on this CD is like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the major parts, short enough to create some interest.  The words are silly and creative.  The vocals – diverse: “regular” voice of Richard Perlmutter really balances out the opera-like sopranos of the other singers, so it is fun and easy for non opera-loving ears. OK, you got it: we really love this collection, but as soon as music becomes the theme of the week, this CD takes the center stage.

We usually start off during a weekend breakfast.  I pick just one melody (symphony, sonata, rhapsody, whatever it is).  Last week, for Bethoven, we listened to the 5th Symphony, so this week it was the Moonlight Sonata.  The 5th went off with a bang – my kids really loved its emotional flow.  On the other hand, Moonlight Sonata brought up really interesting associations for them… which brings us to our listening routine:

  1. We briefly speak about the composer and about his music.

  2. We listen to the melody (no funny lyrics, just the original short selection of the classical piece that we have on our CD)

  3. We discuss what associations, emotions, feelings it evoked.  For the Moonlight Sonata my 5 year old declared that he was imagining Ludvig Van Himself flying in the moonlit clouds with his piano.  Quite an image, especially taking into an account the sheer size of the composer AND his piano, but it surely works for me!

  4. We listen to the Richard Perlmutter’s version – his silly lyrics always bring out some giggles!

  5. If available, we watch Fantasia’s animation or other cartoon staged to that music, so see another interpretation

  6. We continue listening to that piece for the entire week, playing it during mealtimes, in a car, doing homework (and listening to the other pieces by that composer afterwards as a background).

RE. Sticks – Beat That!

Our sticks are very simple: I originally tore the bottom piece of our our regular wooden clothes’ hangers.  Toy drumsticks can be used.  Just like in Mommy and Me classes, we sit in a circle and try to bang out a rhythm of the melody.  Each of the kids takes turns “showing” the rest the moves: over the years, we increased our repertoire of moves: simply banging sticks together, alternating hands, and more creative ones like pretending to play a violin, flute, cello, trumpet, trombone, other instruments.  We also pretend to roll out the dough,  peel the carrots, stir the soup, wave sticks like branches in the air… my kids really like to take the lead in this show.

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MI. Dancing: bring out the scarves, ribbons, or just your best moves.

That’s it!  We dance together, we use some props like scarves and ribbons, we follow each other’s moves or just do whatever feels right at that tune!

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FA. Play Along

The banging of instruments poured out of the box on the floor still lights up my kids’ eyes: they really love experimenting with anything that can make a sound!  We try to enrich our collection by bringing some simple local musical instruments from every vacation to diversify our collection, but it is usually the regular everyday harmonicas, drums, maracas and toy pianos that withstand the interest after the novelty wears off.

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SOL. Musical Story Time

Our favorite ones are by Mike Venezia.  Really funny illustrations, well written storyline. The other good one that we like is Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine. In a car, we often listen to Classics For Kids podcasts, but they are geared towards older kids, so my kids prefer musical fairy tails like  Peter and the Wolf Children Classical Music CD.

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SI. A Touch of an Artist

I picked the tune, the kids pick the medium: whether it is watercolors, acrylic, collage or playdough – the resulting masterpiece has to be somehow connected with the music that we listen to.  Usually their creations are quite abstract, but I like in whatever form or shape it takes.

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Ti. Game Time!

Our favorites are Musical Bingo, Musical Hand Bells Set for Kids, and our latest addition – Musical Touch.

We take turns arranging the bells from lowest to highest notes, we guess the tunes of the musical Bingo, and the Musical Touch lets us create our own tunes and as an added bonus sparkles the discussion about electricity.

Happy Listening!

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