Did you know that September is Classical Music Month here in the U.S.?
Whether you are a Tchaikovsky fan or don't know Bach from Beethoven, there are plenty of ways that you can celebrate Classical Music Month and help your children do the same.
Here's a closer look at this musical celebration and how you can celebrate it.
What Is Classical Music Month?
In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation making every September Classical Music Month. The proclamation read in part:
"Classical music is a celebration of artistic excellence …. This month we exalt the many talented composers, conductors, and musicians who bring classical music to our ears. …music is a unifying force in our world, bringing people together across vast cultural and geographical divisions."
With these inspiring thoughts, it's easy to see why it's important to observe and celebrate Classical Music Month.
Music truly does have the power to bring people together in spite of all of their differences. With music education, everyone can develop just a little more empathy, understanding and patient.
Celebrating Classical Music Month doesn't have to be elaborate or intimidating. All you have to do is consider using one or more of these fun and easy suggestions.
1. Let a Piece of Classical Music Play on Your Stereo Every Day
No matter how you and your family typically listen to music, it shouldn't be too difficult to find some works in the classical genre. Many metropolitan areas have a classical music station, and Pandora and satellite radio are other good options.
It's also possible to explore YouTube and other websites that feature live performances and recordings.
Feel free to listen however and whenever you like. Play classical music during study hour, recess, chore time or while driving in the car. Classical music can be fun and uplifting wherever, whenever.
Remember, the act of simply listening is in itself an introduction to all that classical music has to offer. Try to listen to one classical music piece each day in September.
2. Try Online Instrument Lessons
Have you or your children ever had the desire to play a musical instrument but never quite found the time? Classical Music Month gives you the perfect excuse!
There are several apps and websites out there that offer online instruction in a variety of musical instruments. The most common lessons are on the piano, but other options certainly are available.
Just a few of the options include:
3. Attend a Concert in the Park
Admittedly, this one can be hard to do right now with most public gatherings being out of the question. Nonetheless, some communities have found ways to hold concerts in the park with proper social distancing and masks.
If you don't have access to a concert in the park in your area, then it's time to create your own! Get together supplies like a picnic blanket, a few snacks and a radio, stereo or MP3 player. Take it all outside where you can enjoy the sweet strains of classical music while gazing up at the stars.
Bonus points if you listen to Holst's The Planets while gazing through a telescope at the night sky. It's a wonderful way to explore astronomy and classical music all at once.
4. Learn to Identify Instruments
Can you hear the difference between a cello and a violin? Do you know a trumpet from a tuba? This can be an incredibly fun and engaging exercise for you and the kids.
There are some really fun activities that you can do with this. Feel free to rely on YouTube videos and other online resources to find all of the sounds that the various instruments in an orchestra make. Have your kids draw or color each of the instruments as they listen to it and practice writing its name.
Once they have become familiar with a handful of instruments, it's time to take a fun quiz as you play a snippet of music and your little ones identify the instrument.
5. Get to Know a Famous Composer
Francis Johnson, Haydn, Debussy, Brahms, Chopin, Vivaldi and many others led fascinating lives, overcame numerous challenges and composed music that has stood the test of time. Have you or your child ever been intrigued by a certain piece of classical music?
If so, September is the perfect time to figure out who composed it and take a deep dive into their life and work.
While reading, it's a great idea to listen to the composer's works with great depth. Consider listening to early works, and then compare them to the composer's last works. How are they different? Does the composer demonstrate greater sophistication or maturity with the later works?
Most well-known composers have been described in detail in books written for young readers as well as adults. Seek out homeschooling resources to find even more books, workbooks and activities. Whether your child is just learning to read or is closer to high school, there are resources at their level to help them get to know a composer.
Younger kids may love talking about the sounds in each piece and how those sounds make them feel.
6. Dance, Clap and Move to Classical Music
Who says that you have to sit down to appreciate classical music? With some compositions, it's almost impossible to do anything but stand up and dance while listening.
Encourage kids to dance or march around the room as the music plays. Invite them to clap their hands or stomp their feet. Perhaps hand them a bell, tambourine or other small instrument so that they can play along.
You don't have to know how to dance or be able to identify even one note to feel how the music moves you.
7. Make Instruments and Put on a Concert
Have you and your kids discovered a piece of classical music that you absolutely love? If so, then it may be time to play it yourself, but only after you make the instruments, of course!
This is another activity that can combine numerous different skills and fun activities. Use art and craft supplies to build some of the musical instruments that are featured in your favorite classical piece. Then, invite the rest of the family to attend a concert as your little ones play their instruments to the music on the stereo.
This is a great exercise for helping kids to identify the sounds that the different instruments make as well.
8. Identify Classical Music in Cartoons, TV Shows and Movies
Did you know that classical music has always been used in cartoons, TV shows, movies and even commercials? The next time you hear some music that you think is classical, it's time to press pause. Who can name that tune?
Keep track of how many classical pieces you hear on TV and in movies throughout September, and compete to see who can name the most.
9. Virtually Visit the Symphony
Even if you can't get to a concert during September, it's still possible to visit the symphony through a website.
Here is a sampling of some of the orchestras that you might virtually visit:
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra
- Cleveland Orchestra
- Los Angeles Philharmonic
- Boston Symphony Orchestra
- New York Philharmonic
On each website, you can explore the history of the orchestra and biographies of the musicians and the conductors. You may even find recordings of past performances or an opportunity to tour the concert hall where performances are given.
10. Try a Music Appreciation Course
Resources like the ClassicsforKids.com website have tons of fun and engaging material that let your little ones explore classical music. You'll find plenty of games, information and activities to keep your kids occupied for the month of September and beyond.
Also, check out the offerings at the PBSLearningMedia.org website. There are fantastic videos here that can be filtered according to grade level. Lots of interactive lessons are included, and all of it is free. It's hard to imagine a more immersive way to get involved with classical music.
11. Explore How Classical Music Intersects with Other Subjects
If you have older children or students, then Classical Music Month provides an excellent opportunity to look at how classical music was shaped by other influences and vice versa.
Books such as Waiting for Verdi: Opera and Political Opinion in Nineteenth Century Italy and Curtain, Gong, Steam: Wagnerian Technologies of Nineteenth-Century Opera, provide fascinating in-depth explorations of complex subject matter. You might want to read them too!
Let Prodigies Help You Celebrate Classical Music Month
At Prodigies Music, we believe that you're never too old or too young to appreciate music. That's why our accessible lessons are designed to be appealing, informative and fun for learners of all abilities.
We offer more than 700 video music lessons and songs for kids between the ages of two and twelve, but the learning doesn't stop there. Many parents and teachers tell us how much they have learned and benefitted from these fun and engaging lessons as well.
With games, playlists, sheet music, lessons and more, Prodigies Music ensures that everyone has access to a quality music education during Classical Music Month and beyond.