How to Raise Musical Geniuses (Maybe)
Last year, in the hopes they would reveal themselves as prodigies, I took my two sons to the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert.
I was super-excited because it was a performance of The Composer is Dead, with Lemony Snicket, and I thought they would think it was hilarious.
The end result was my oldest son thought it was a riot. My youngest son decided to catch up on his beauty sleep precisely 8 seconds after the house lights went down. His snores were audible within a four-row radius.
I’ve been trying to find other more effective ways of engaging them in classical music ever since, especially now that I’m homeschooling the kindergartener. My latest attempts led me to the public library, where I found several CDs in the kid’s section that claimed to be good places to start. After a bit of research, I returned the duds and will share with you the diamonds! Note that these worked well for reluctant classical music listeners between the ages of five and eight. They are also selections that I didn’t mind listening to as an adult.
Beethoven’s Wig: Sing-along Symphonies, Volumes 1 – 5
This was my kids’ absolute favorite. It has each piece of classical music recorded twice – first with silly (but educational) lyrics, then without. My kids were able to learn something about each piece and composer in the process and have since identified Bach, Verdi, and Beethoven in entirely random circumstances. Parenting WIN!
A Classic Tale: Music for Our Children
Sharon Stone narrating Prokofiev’s Peter & the Wolf? Cher walking us through The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra? Samuel L. Jackson narrating Copland’s Lincoln Portrait?
Baby’s First Classics: Volume I
This is our new playlist for suppertime. You’ll recognize all of your favorite pieces – Chopin, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Pachelbel, Bach – it’s like classical music’s greatest hits. It also demonstrated a gorgeous variety of instruments, letting each one have its moment in the spotlight. Harp, guitar, piano, strings, horns – it’s all there, providing a good opportunity to talk about each instrument with your child.
Mozart’s Magic Fantasy
The only opera I can find that my kids will listen to willingly. The narrator is a little girl called Sara, who is whisked away to another world while visiting the set of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She finds herself part of the story and meets Prince Tamino, the bird catcher Papagino, the Queen of the Night, and Sarastro the Magician. I can’t wait to try the others in this “Classical Kids” series – they all have rave reviews on Amazon.
Basically I’ve found if you want your kids to appreciate classical music YOU HAVE TO PLAY IT. Play it at home in the background. Play it in the car when they’re strapped in and have no choice. That might seem like a no-brainer, but it really is a nice addition to the Vampire Weekend, U2, Arcade Fire, Michael Jackson, and Old Crow Medicine Show that is regularly blasted at our little Hotwheel Hacienda.
What music do your kids like to crank up to 11?
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Have you tried Heigh-Ho! Mozart? This CD has Disney tunes in the style of various classical composers. It is fun just to listen to, but your child might find a particular style of classical music that he or she prefers.
And don’t forget our own local Dolphin Don (Dr. Don Bowyer of UAH) who has a wonderful school for music!
A good way to energize kids about classical music is putting instruments in their hands. I doubt you’ll get the concert master to hand over his violin, but there are plenty of music schools willing to let kids touch and explore all kinds of instruments.
I reckon it is too late for me and my teens. 🙁
We also homeschool, and we bought the Classical Kids collection from http://www.christianbook.com. (That was the cheapest source I found.) It comes with 2 of the stories as DVD’s as well as CD’s, included a slide show of famous places relating to the composers, a teacher’s guide, and all but the Christmas version of the Classical Kids CD stories. My kids LOVE them! I later bought the “Best of (fill in composer’s name here)” collection by Classical Kids. We just recently bought the Peter and the Wolf CD you talked about, and I had forgotten about it! I need to pull it out!