Daily Bow: Where’s the Music?

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Finding Innovative Ways to Introduce Children to Classical Music

Many of us have a personal experience as a child that hooked us on classical music. Whether it was hearing and instrument we loved over the radio or seeing a live performance that made us fall in love with a certain piece or composer, hearing classical music at a young age can be a positive and formative experience for a child. There’s also such a massive amount of classical music (over 500 years and counting!), and much of it easy to access.

Many people would agree, however, that children aren’t getting enough access to classical music. While finding a recording of a Beethoven symphony on Youtube is easy, it also isn’t featured on the homepage unless you always listen to Beethoven symphonies. Children aren’t given a formal introduction to classical music in their homes anymore because some parents see the genre as elitist or don’t feel like they have an authoritative grasp on the subject.

There are many interesting ways to fill this lack of musical enrichment in the lives of children. One interesting introductory method at use in England right now is the “My First …” series. Presented by the English National Ballet School, the series presents ballets specifically aimed at children with reduced plots and scaled down choreography. The original music, sets, and costumes, however, remain intact, giving children an accurate impression of what it’s like to attend a real ballet. The shorter running time acknowledges their shorter attention spans, but, children are still bound to be singing tunes by Tchaikovsky as they leave a performance of My First Sleeping Beauty, which premiered this week in London.

Or maybe a more indirect approach could work. One primary school in north Kent, in England, puts music in their students’ daily lives by playing it in the hallways as they walk to class. Hearing the last movement of Beethoven 7 in the background is a common occurrence according to the school’s headmaster. If a child is interested in the music they’re hearing, they can look to a board in the hallway which lists the current music playing. This is such a simple idea, and yet it’s not done often enough.

Introducing children to classical music can be enlightening, enjoyable, and easy. And as many of our readers know, it can form a life-long passion that opens doors to entirely unknown worlds. Think about how you connected with classical music as a child. What creative ways are out there that you would use to introduce a child to classical music? Offer your suggestions below

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One Response to Daily Bow: Where’s the Music?

  1. Terry April 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    A very, very, long time ago, when I was about 12 years old, us school kids went on a trip over to the high school to hear a band concert. It made a huge impact – 5 decades later I still remember some of what they played: Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday, although I didn’t recognize it as such until years later; and that old war-horse version of Battle Hymn of the Republic similar to the one done by Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I think, but I’m not sure, they also played a band version of Richard Roger’s Victory at Sea, although for sure I would not have recognized that as such back then. Now, of course, you might say those aren’t classical music pieces (Yeah, I know, the older I get, the less I know where the official boundaries are).

    From an adult’s perspective, why was I so impressed? Well, I think it’s because (1) these were kids not much older than I, doing something way beyond what I would have imagined. (2) The pieces were not kid stuff, they were, to my ears, grown up pieces of music, but (3) the pieces were still accessible to a kid’s taste. Actually, they are even still accessible to this old-timer’s taste.

    So perhaps high schools and colleges could do more performances for the grade schools.

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