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5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Like Classical Music - Compass Classroom Blog

5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Like Classical Music

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When it comes to classical music, I am what most people would consider obsessive. I listen to classical music all the time; I generally don't listen to other types of music; and my collection of 600+ albums would give me over 31 days of non-stop listening time (according to iTunes).

I can remember with some precision exactly when I started liking classical music. I was a junior in high school sitting in a music appreciation class. The band teacher who taught it was a dry, sarcastic man who poked fun at his students; but he did like classical music, and so treated it with the utmost respect. I remember him putting on an LP of Mozart's 40th symphony and then explaining how the music worked in minute detail; that is, he explained a bit of Mozart's genius.

I was fascinated. I had never really listened to music like this before. It was a bit like a guy seeing a beautiful girl across the room and thinking "I'm going to marry that girl and live with her the rest of my life" - then actually doing so. That was me with classical music.

A lot of parents these days want their kids to like classical music. Parents have heard all the positive things about classical music and would like to believe that they are true: it makes kids smarter, it makes kids more literate, it makes kids more musical.

I have to be honest - I have no idea if that's true. What I do know, however, is that knowing and loving classical music is as good, if not better, than knowing and loving good literature, good films, and good food. It is an endless world of delight and pleasure and mystery and romance and excitement and, well, just about every emotion possible.

So how do you get your kids interested in this incredible world? Here are a few ideas from someone who has done it with his kids thus far.

1) Start listening to classical music in your home and your car.  This may be the most important thing you can do, in fact.  If you listen to classical music yourself in the home, then your kids will hear it and know you're listening to it. Depending on the age of your children, this may have a stronger or weaker effect, but it is absolutely useful in laying a foundation in your home for good music. Listen to it in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, in the car - whenever you can.  This will begin to acclimate your family's ears to listening.

2) Take your children to classical concerts. Most cities today have a symphony orchestra, and almost all decent-sized colleges and universities have student orchestras and chamber ensembles. Look them up and take your kids to hear them. It will likely be all types of classical music, but it will make the music real. Many orchestras have free rehearsals during the day, which is perfect for homeschooling families.

3) Start with pieces they can easily consume and enjoy. The classic children's pieces are quite good for kids to hear: Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Camille Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals, etc. Over the next few months, I'll be trying to highlight individual pieces you can introduce to your children (and yourself).

4) Make the music easily accessible. We have iPods for the kids which we put audio books and classical music on.  We also have it in our CD player that has about 100 CDs in it. Of course, with Spotify, iTunes radio classical stations, and tons of other internet options, it's easy to find all-classical never-ending free music (some stations/channels that only play certain composers or styles - more on these in later posts). Just this morning, my 7 year old daughter said she wanted to listen to music, went to the big CD player, and clicked through until she found "young Mozart symphonies" which, of course, are fun and upbeat, and therefore the perfect accompaniment for coloring.

5) Start educating yourself on classical music. Education requires you to listen intentionally; to get a book or two on classical music; and listen to some online lectures - to learn to appreciate the music. When I lived in France, one of my favorite things was to go to a French restaurant with a friend of mine who is a top French chef. The food was good; but when he explained what was going on inside it, I was even more impressed and savored it even more. Again, I will try to provide book ideas in the weeks and months to come.

As you consider how to teach your kids to like classical music, I'll leave you with a fun video of some selections from Peter and the Wolf - the orchestra actually put cameras on the instruments. Very clever. And remember to listen to the music louder so you can actually hear all the parts of it. (Music should never be turned down too low.)

In future posts, I'll be discussing places to find classical music, particular pieces to listen to, and other ways to make music a part of your children's lives. [Read Part 2 - Classical Music Periods: A Quick Flyover]

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