Listening to classical music brings great developmental benefits to children: mind skills, concentration, abstraction, imagination and peace of mind (which can be invaluable in our stressful society and for stressed moms!). Most of all, it can become an endless source of deep pleasure that accompanies them throughout their lives.
The problem is that it’s not always easy to begin listening to classical music, especially for children. Most children will be more interested in the latest boy band or trendy pop star, but with your help, they can broaden their musical tastes. Take classical music from boring to fun by getting creative with how you introduce it to them. Who knows? They might just fall in love with the art!
Fun activities to try:
Feel the music
Try: Beethoven, Symphony No. 5, 4th Movement
The first impact music has on us is physical — even small children respond to music by moving their body, so play some classical music, and tell your children to dance to it. You can change the mood of the music from joyful to triumphant, sad, mischievous, etc. This can bring special attention to the rhythm in music.
Draw the music
Try: J.S. Bach, Concerto Italiano, 2nd Movement
While playing classical music, give your kids some paper and coloured pencils, and tell them to draw whatever the music inspires them to. You can let your children’s imaginations to run free, or you can give them some direction. For instance, tell them to draw a line that follows the melody up and down, change colours whenever they hear a different instrument, draw harder when the music gets loud, and so on.
Frame the music
Try: Händel, Water Music Suite, alla hornpipe
Before listening to a piece of music, look up information about it so you can tell your children about the music they’re going to hear. For instance, tell them about the author, the occasion the music was composed for, the period in which it was composed, how people used to dress or what happened in that time, etc. This can awaken their curiosity and make them listen with more interest.
Find the subject in the music
Many composers reveal what inspired them to create a piece of music, such as a character, a toy, a river, an animal, etc. Tell your children to listen for the subject in the music, and ask them what musical element the composer used to make them recognize this subject. Was it the rhythm, the melody, the instrument, the accompaniment, or something else?
Read about the music
Find an entertaining book about classical music, such as Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music, which is focused on music inspired by birdsong. Play classical music softly in the background while you read together.
To succeed in awakening your children’s interest in classical music through any of the above activities, two essential aspects need to be taken into consideration: Be there with them while they’re listening to the music, and play only a brief passage of the music you choose. Other than that, put on your favourite selection of classical music, and enjoy the time together.