If you're like many people, then you may be just a little bit intimidated by classical music. It's OK to feel that way, especially since so many public schools have placed far less emphasis on the arts in recent decades.
Perhaps you just never had a chance to get acquainted with classical music, and maybe that's something that has always bothered you. You wish you knew more, but aren't sure where to start.
Of course, now you're homeschooling your kids, and you'd like it if you could find a fun and not intimidating way to help them appreciate and even love classical music.
One of the best places to start is with finding some high-quality music appreciation homeschool resources. Incorporating these into your learning day is designed to be fun and easy, even if you don't have a background in music education yourself.
If you don't have a background in music or if it's been a few years since you've studied, don't be intimidated. Classical music probably is a lot more accessible than you realize, and you're likely already familiar with many of the most famous pieces because they are used so frequently in popular culture.
This is an opportunity for you and your children to develop an appreciation or even love for classical music. Just follow these tips to get the most out of the journey.
1. Just Start Listening
Getting acquainted with classical music is as easy as tuning to the local station or streaming an appropriate Pandora or satellite radio station. Opportunities to listen abound whether you're in the car, making dinner, doing schoolwork or just relaxing at home.
Set aside some time at least once a day to just listen to classical music. You may do so while getting ready for bed or during bath time to increase relaxation or use a rousing piece to help with getting the housework done. Either way, kids will start to see that classical music can actually be fun!
2. Approach Classical Music with a Sense of Fun
Do your best to not approach classical music with reverence or as something that is deeply serious. Keep in mind that classical music actually can be a lot of fun. There also are pieces that touch the soul and those that can help anyone to relax and unwind.
Also, remember that classical music was the "pop" music of its day. Not all of it was meant to be deadly serious, and some of it is really playful.
In fact, this can be a really great opportunity to learn about classical music at the same time that your children do. That's important because many adults today just were never really exposed to classical music. This may mean that you think it's stuffy, stilted and terribly serious.
What a surprise you'll have when you start really delving into classical music and discover how fun and beautiful it can be. Your interest and delight in the music will definitely be infectious to your children.
3. Exposure to Classical Music Can Be Everything
Little kids genuinely don't know the difference between classical music, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the songs on the top 40 radio station. To them, music is music, and this means that exposing them to all sorts of music at a young age is valuable.
Children tend to enjoy and learn to love whatever they are exposed to. Accordingly, if you only ever play the top 40 radio station or sing This Old Man, then that is the kind of music that they will love. It follows then that if you play classical music for your kids, they'll probably love it.
This isn't to say that one genre of music is inherently superior to the others. In fact, it's probably a really good idea to expose your little ones to all sorts of music including folk songs, country, hymns and anything else that you find beautiful. Why limit their listening horizons when they are just starting out?
4. Encourage Kids to Move to the Music
Some classical music, like a ballet score, is absolutely written for movement. Even other compositions that weren't written with dancing in mind still are incredibly evocative and encourage the listener to get up and move.
When you hear a piece that moves you, be sure to get up and move with it, encouraging your kids to do the same. No formal dance training or natural ability is required. All you have to do is let the music take you jumping, swaying, turning, swirling and dropping. The connection between mind, body and sound is powerful, and little kids will absolutely feel it, which nurtures a love of classical music within them.
5. Try Short Pieces First
Many pieces of classical music are part of much longer compositions. Rather than expecting your child to be enraptured by the entire score of an opera, ballet or symphony, consider offering classical music to them in small doses.
Here are some of the most engaging pieces that kids are almost certain to love:
- Chopin's Minute Waltz
- Rossini's William Tell Overture (the famous theme from The Lone Ranger)
- Kreisler's The Flight of the Bumble Bee
- Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker
- Strauss' The Blue Danube
Each of these compositions is short, fast and fun. Your kids may even recognize some of them from popular culture where they often are used in TV shows, movies and commercials.
Basically, a few short, well-known pieces can be just what's needed to pique your child's interest in classical music.
6. Take Instrument Lessons
Does your child seem intrigued by the idea of playing the piano, violin or another instrument? If so, then instrument lessons can be an excellent way to encourage your child's love of classical music.
Of course, music lessons don't have to revolve around classical music, but this genre frequently forms the backbone of formal training.
Becoming proficient with any instrument requires time and dedication. It's definitely not for everyone, but your child doesn't have to dream of becoming a professional musician in order to experience the rewards of a musical education. In fact, most people look back with fondness on their instrument lessons and are grateful that they had a chance to gain a better appreciation of what it takes to make beautiful music.
7. Demonstrate How Music Can Tell a Story
Music that comes from the score of an opera or ballet definitely tells a story, but so do some shorter works. Some of these are really fun and accessible for little kids.
- Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf
- Saint-Saens's Carnival of the Animals
- Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
- Holst's The Planets
Some of the recordings of these works include narration and specific instruments or bits of the music are reserved for particular characters. You'll be surprised by how quickly children begin to identify characters by their signature music.
To make it even more fun, ask kids to draw pictures of the various characters, instruments or planets. It's a wonderful way to engage any child's artistic sensibilities on several levels.
8. Read Fun and Informative Books
One of the best books for helping kids to get acquainted with classical music and how and where it's played is Robert Levine's Story of the Orchestra. Complete with fun and colorful illustrations, this book is designed to introduce kids to the instruments of the orchestra and the music that they play. Included with the book is a 70-minute CD so that kids can hear samples of the music about which they are reading.
This book covers a lot of ground in addition to the instruments of the orchestra. Kids will learn all about the major eras of music and the most famous composers of those eras, all in an engaging and accessible fashion.
Other books that are worthy of consideration include M is for Melody: A Music Alphabet by Kathy-Jo Wargin and Meet the Orchestra by Ann Hayes. Or try one of our audio book suggestions here!
Sign Up for Prodigies Music
If you want your child to love classical music or develop an interest in music of all genres, then consider signing up for the lessons from Prodigies Music.
Prodigies Music firmly believes that everyone's life can be improved through the study of music. Whether children become accomplished musicians or simply develop an appreciation of the art form, research demonstrates how studying music has benefits that go well beyond knowing a note from a rest.
Our lessons strive to make learning about music fun for kids of all abilities. You just might find them fun and informative as well. Get started today to discover how music can bring you and your children closer together.