Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Learning Through Exposure (Appreciating Classical Music Part 2)

Some people say that classical music is archaic and has no relevance for the youth of today. Is this true? Are we wasting our time exposing children to this age-old genre? I would like to encourage you to recognize the value of classical music, regardless of the age or interests of the listener. Classical music has the potential to engage both the heart and mind of a child and propel them towards a greater interest in the things around them.  
In our last blog we discussed introducing our children to classical music through EXAMPLE and EXPERIENCES. This week we will talk about introducing our children to classical music through EXPOSURE.

Expose your child by using all of the senses to incorporate classical music into his environment.

1.  There are many wonderful CD collections with a variety of composers and musical selections. Look for ways to incorporate them into your daily life. Allow classical music to be part of your child’s environment–something they are comfortable with, something that is normal. They will absorb more that you realize!
  • Have the music playing softly in the background while your children are playing, coloring, reading, or even during handwriting or study time.
  • Choose a specific song to play during cleanup time or while everyone is getting ready for bed. Can they be done before the song finishes? Have fun and do it playfully

2.  There are also a wide variety of DVDs available that encourage classical music enrichment. (Your local library is an excellent source for these.) 
  • Baby Einstein is a good resource for introducing little ones to classical music,
  • Little Einstein is a favorite at our house (although I am selective about which ones they watch). I was listening to some classical music one day and my son (who was six at the time) got all excited. “Mom, that’s on Little Einsteins! You know the part where they….” and he was right. He recognized the melody and it stuck in his mind because he had a memory link to it.

3.  Another idea that might make you chuckle (but you will realize I am right) is watching the old cartoons (Tom and Jerry, Road Runner, Bugs Bunny etc…) and westerns. The sound tracks for these old shows were often classical music scores. Children will begin to sense tempo and musical mood changes as they listen to the music communicate the stories. Another example of this is from the Lone Ranger. When my children were small, I would bounce them on my knee and hum the theme song to the Lone Ranger (which is actually The William Tell Overture). Whenever they would hear that music played, they would get all excited “The horsie song, Mama! It’s the horsie song!” Again, they had a point of reference for remembering this music. It was familiar to them. It was part of their world! 

4.  One of the most powerful ways you can create an appreciation for classical music is by taking your children to a live concert. There is nothing that can compare to the feeling you have as the music plays around you. The way you want to stand to your feet as the music crescendos. The feast for your eyes and ears as you watch the orchestra members perform this musical feat. Many larger cities have a professional symphonic orchestra. Often times these orchestras will host a children’s concert geared primarily to the little ones in the audience, but a regular concert is a special treat as well. Open air concerts or symphonic band concerts are often a more relaxed atmosphere, great for little ones with lots of wiggles or those just being introduced to classical concerts. You may not have a regularly performing orchestra where you live, however, there are other options. 
  • Do you have a local college with a music program? Student musicians are required to have a senior recital, which is a great opportunity for families to enjoy a concert.
  • Perhaps you could schedule a concert performance into your next family vacation?
  • Many times local churches will host classical concerts. Do some research in your area and see what is available. You might be surprised.
  • There are many books and DVDs that will expose your child to the symphony orchestra, classical music performances, ballets and operas, as well as performers and instruments. Contact your local librarian for these resources. (The internet can also be a tremendous resource for songs, movies, and classical music information.) Take advantage of all the resources you can.

5.  You could use upbeat music to help your child use up some extra energy. 
  • Have the kids move to the music. If it is a slow song, the kids move around the room slowly, stomping, twirling or stepping in slow motion. Then when the music tempo speeds up, so do the kids. They love to run around the room as fast as they can, jumping, skipping, racing, and just being active. (You could also do a version of this with drawing or painting. Have the child draw what they hear. Should they color fast? Slow? Jagged lines? Circles? What colors do they “hear” in the music?)
Other ideas:
  • Because of the wide variety of styles within symphonic music, there are also several collections of classical music lullabies. What a delightful way to lull your little one to sleep each night.
  • Perhaps every once in a while you could celebrate “This Day in History.” Research when a particular piece was written and play it for your children on that day. Have everyone sit together and enjoy the music for a few moments and then hum parts of the melody throughout the day.
  • Use classical music as you study a particular theme in school (the night sky, weather, animals, bugs, etc.). What a great way to generate interest and create a memory hook.
  • Remember that children are drawn to playful, fun songs. Introduce them to “Flight of the Bumblebee,” “Carnival of the Animals,” “The Magic Flute”, “Hungarian Dance, No. 5”, and so many more familiar fun melodies.
  • Some classical songs tell a story—“Peter and Wolf,” “Scheherazade,” or the “Nutcracker Ballet” are just a few examples. You can locate visuals to these stories on DVD, audio books, or the internet and capture your child’s imagination!
There are so many ways we can add interest to classical music. The more a child understands and relates to something the more he/she will appreciate it. As we provide more knowledge and background for the music, children will be able to appreciate it in a greater way.
Classical music is important for many reasons. As we are intentional about engaging our students in this delightful music, we will watch them develop both in their hearts and minds. By encouraging them to explore classical music, we will be able to have a positive influence on their lives and inspire them to great things. Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." Let us engage our children in this wonderful experience called music!

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