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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Getting Kids Excited about Classical Music

In my many searchings on the internet for tips on how to get young people to listen to classical music, I found a GREAT article written by Richard Perlmutter called "How to Get (and Keep) Your Kids Excited about Classical Music. (Find the full article here). Based on my own experience I thought I would highlight a few of this best ideas:

1) "Start with Music You Like"

This is part of the fun of getting your kids to listen, you have to listen too! You have to figure out what you like, and your enthusiasm about those pieces will rub off on your kids. If (by any rare chance) you don't like "classical music", keep searching!

Try a new time period. Classical music really only refers to the period in which composers such as Haydn and Mozart were writing music. Try something from the Romantic period (Beethoven, Mahler, Mendelssohn, etc.) You will surprise yourself, and I promise if you keep digging you'll find something that you will love!

2) "Mix it Up"

The classics are not only classical music. Listen to all kinds of things--Jazz, Blues, R&B, Pop, Mellow Seventies, etc. Just getting different sounds in their ears may be enough to get them exploring on their own.

3) "See Music"

In other words, go to as many live events as you can. I could not be more passionate about this. Sticking a bunch of music on an IPod and listening to it on shuffle does not create better listeners. It does not usually involve active listening at all. Make the music listening and experience in itself, and a whole new world of possibilities open up.

A great example is opera--no recording will ever be able to imitate the true power of listening to live opera. Don't start with Wagner's Ring cycle, go with something shorter and lighter. You won't regret it!

4) Be an active listener, and identify instruments, voice types, etc.

First of all it's a great idea to listen to music that does this for you. My kids love Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev. I'll be posting a review of my two favorites, with a third potential favorite on the way. Here is one of them:

You will be surprised how quickly even your youngest children can identify instruments not just in Peter and the Wolf, but in other pieces as well.

5) "Dig In"

Learn as much as you can about certain performers and composers. The more you learn about them the more you are going to be aching to hear them. Knowing little anecdotes and stories are great for sharing with kids.

6) "Take Music Lessons"

Learning an instrument or how to sing will give you a deeper appreciation for what the pros do. And who knows, maybe you'll find a secret talent you never had. Also, enrolling your children in lessons early can get them into it when it's still "cool". Then it might stay "cool".

Whatever you do, stick with it. The world of classical music is such a rewarding one to live in. Support the arts in your communities, and listen as much as you can--but do it actively! Don't just let this music become background music, or we may lose it forever.

Happy listening, and good luck!

Getting Kids Excited about Classical Music

Monday, October 29, 2007

Getting Teens to Listen to Classical Music

Getting Teens to Listen to Classical Music

How many people would disagree with the idea that listening to better music would lead our teens to better lives? It's hard to imagine a bunch of teenagers spraying a bunch of graffiti under an overpass, doing drugs, or picking on little kids while jamming to Mozart's 40th Symphony.

So, how do we create interest? For my first set of tips I will cite a great article taken from a radio show by Fred Flaxman at WXEL-FM in West Palm Beach, Florida (link to article here). His first idea (tongue-in-cheek) is to forbid your teens from listening to it--that will really generate interest.

The main idea (that works) is to get your kids to listen to classical music that is similar to what they already listen to, and he gives several suggestions. These usually include pieces that are nice and loud, and very rhythmic. I have to admit that my interest in classical music started much this way.

Here are some of the pieces he suggests:

Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (I recommend Bernstein - lots of raw energy) I also love parts of "The Rite of Spring" - you can find both on the following recording.

Gulda's Konzert fur Violoncello und Blasorchester (see article - I'm unfamiliar with this one)

Guido Lopez Cavilan En Me Menor (again, one I am not familiar with)

Bernstein's Candide Overture (I LOVE this piece, and the recording below--lots of great Bernstein I think young people would be interested in).

Orchestra versions of popular pieces (He suggests the Beatles' Yesterday played by the Cincinnati Pops). This is a really good idea, as long as the orchestral version is done well enough.

And finally, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto, No. 2.

I like all of these suggestions, though a few of them might be a little obscure. Have you had any success with other pieces? Suggestions, remarks? Let's get our kids actively listening to things that will make their lives better, and do it in a way they can enjoy.

Happy listening!

Getting Teens to Listen to Classical Music

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