Monday, March 18, 2013

Introducing Children to Classical Music

I didn't grow up liking classical music. The little exposure that I had made me think that it's boring. I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't enjoy it and didn't make sense to me at all. 

My second career as a Kindermusik educator has remedied this and broadened my taste in music. Listening to, dancing with, and playing along music are now some of my favorite things to do with my children. 

Maestro Classics Logo

Late last year, I bought the complete set of Maestro Classics CDs, a series that uses stories to introduce children to classical music. Performed by “the greatest recording orchestra in the world,” the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the musical performances are just heavenly!

The free Homeschool Curriculum Guides convinced me to splurge on a set - during a sale, of course! Published on its website for everyone’s benefit, the guides cover history, science, geography, language arts, art, music, and math! The website has loads of information and links that make listening an active and well-rounded experience for children... and their parents.

It was exactly what I was looking for to encourage our family to have a deep appreciation of classical music.

Learning Through Music

Little T really fell in love with Russia when we visited it with “Another Celebrated Dancing Bear.” I decided to linger there some more and explore the country through another well-loved story.

“Peter and the Wolf” is set in Russia and is one of the albums in the Maestro Classics CDs. It is about a boy named Peter who tricks and catches a wolf with the help of some animal friends. We first encountered the story in a picture book some time ago, but never fully appreciated it until we devoted more than a week to listening to the recording and following the suggestions in the curriculum guide. Little T couldn’t get enough of it and would listen even to the conductor’s explanation about the music and the instruments used! 

Here are some of the ways that helped us enjoy the classical masterpiece.

We Studied Where The Music Is From

For our extended “trip” to Russia, we made the country’s flag and located Ukraine on the map and on our children’s atlas. Ukraine used to be part of Russia and it is where the composer, Profokiev was born. We continued playing too with our matrioshka dolls and finished the Russian skyline that we began the week before.

Learned About The Orchestra  

We enjoyed a live orchestra once when we watched prima ballerina Lisa Macuja in Giselle. We prepared for the experience not only by reading books about the ballet, but also about the orchestra. "Zin! Zin! A Violin!" by Lloyd Moss, "The Orchestra" by Mark Rubin, and "Ah, Music!" by Aliki were some of the books that we read.

It was a great review for Little T, then, as she listened and tried to identify the instruments being played in “Peter and the Wolf.” The fact that the CD explains that each character has an assigned instrument greatly helped in practicing our focused listening skills too.

Had A Musical Story Time

As suggested in the curriculum guide, we set a story into music. We chose “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and used a drum, egg shakers, sand blocks, a tambourine, and a slide whistle to tell the story. It was a memorable family activity that inspired 2-year-old Little Sir to strum the dulcimer while singing “Goodnight Gorilla” later that day!

Maestro Classics  provides musical stories that children enjoy and that make classical music relatable and highly interesting. The Homeschool Curriculum Guide is tremendously helpful, whether you are homeschooling or not, for making the music soar beyond what is heard. 

(NOTE: It goes without saying, but I will still say it anyway, that this post is not a sponsored one. I do not write sponsored posts and only write about what we enjoy doing.)

Make magic!

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Bonnie Simon said...

What a great post! It is always so gratifying to have such honest and thoughtful reflections on classical music in general and on our Maestro Classics' Stories in Music series. My husband and I always hoped that children and parents would enjoy these recordings together and you are certainly helping us spread the word. Many thanks!

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Thank you for reading, Bonnie! I was really very excited when I first discovered Maestro Classics. On my own, I don't think I can lead my children to enjoying classical music... since as you know, I used to not enjoy it too! The recordings are really fantastic and I remember the first time I listened to Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, I couldn't stop saying "Wow!" :)

Chris said...

I am interested to try this one out. We haven't had many auditory materials and this might work for my little boy! :)

Dianne said...

I have been looking at Maestro Music for quite a while. I love the idea of using children's stories to introduce them to classical music. I love how you expanded it into a cultural study. I still remember my first real introduction to classical music, which was in High School. We each studied a different composer. Mine was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I want my 3 year old to be introduced to and appreciate classical music before she is 16.

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Hi Dianne! What a lovely goal for your daughter! I also wish I learned to appreciate classical music earlier, but it's never to late to learn anything I think! :)

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Peter and the Wolf is highly engaging, and since the lead character is a boy, I think boys would naturally love it... especially if you try dramatizing it once they've internalized the music! :)

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Glad to hear that Daise! :)

Julia said...

Thanks for the chance to win, would love to introduce Peter and the Wolf to my little ones!

Andrea Mulder said...

I would very much like to add the Maestro Music cds to our very small collection of classical music. We checking this one out from the library and loved it. Thanks for the review!