Ways to Introduce Your Child to Classical Music.

So, remember how I said that I was going to start blogging about a variety of subjects, and it would probably seem very random? This is one of those blog posts.I’ve focused largely on adoption and, specifically, our family’s journey through adoption. While it probably is my absolute favorite topic to write about, I’m also a music teacher and have done some extensive research, writing and training in this area — specifically when it comes to early childhood education. So, even though it probably seems like a random post for this blog, writing about the arts is actually something I started doing long before I ever began this little blog!With that said, here’s my first go on this blog at something outside of adoption. I want to give you some ideas as a parent and piano instructor on introducing your child to classical music.
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You’ve probably heard that listening to Mozart makes kids smarter or seen the CDs put out by Baby Einstein with classical music. That’s great and all and I don’t mean to burst your bubble — but there’s really not a whole lot to substantiate those theories. The “Mozart Effect” study, done in 1993 by my alma mater (sorry UC Irvine) has since been disqualified. The benefits to the brain, emotions, etc. typically come when a child actually learns and studies a musical instrument.So why bother with Beethoven?I believe that introducing classical music sets the stage for a lifelong love of music and an interest in music education and encourages your child to be well-rounded. And frankly, why not teach your child about classical music for the sake of classical music?Here’s a few ideas to set the stage for your little one when it comes to classical music appreciation:

1. Attend symphony performances.

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Our daughter, age 2, at a symphony dress rehearsal.
Believe it or not, the symphony isn’t just a place for cultured, classical snobs. Many symphonies offer special opportunities for their future season ticket holders. Some of my earliest memories were attending the children’s symphony in Salt Lake City with  my mom and younger brother. Even though I was only four, I recall vividly the first time I heard and saw the performance of Prokofiev’s (rated G) version of Romeo and Juliet.In our small town, the symphony offers an annual, free family concert for children that we look forward to attending each year. We also buy a family pass to the symphony dress rehearsals, where we can catch about an hour of a rehearsal before bedtime. Many larger cities offer entire seasons of children’s symphony performances.Remember, also, that most ballets involve classical music — and may hold your child’s interest for longer. What kid doesn’t love seeing polichinelles pop out from under Lady Ginger’s skirt in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker?2. Play classical music in your home.

I’m not saying that you need to only listen to the likes of Beethoven and Bach, but do play classical music in your home. If you show your child that this music has value by listening to it, she will value it, too.

3. Read the stories that inspired classical music.

We first introduced my daughter to classical music through Nutcracker. Before we attended the ballet (she was only 20 months old when we went the first time, which I know is ridiculous, but she was mesmerized for the entire performance), we read a book that told the story about the Nutcracker.  Here are some classical pieces that have stories to accompany them.

The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky
Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev
Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck
Cinderella by Prokofiev
Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky
Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens (I’m currently working on a summer camp for students at my studio with this theme, and hoping to present more teaching ideas and visual aids for this suite here soon.)

At our house, we love to read the story and then listen to the piece, and Yaya guesses which parts of the story are happening during certain parts of the music.

For stories that have accompanying ballets, our family loves the Ella Bella Ballerina series. They have darling pictures and a little bit of extra info about the classical music from the ballet in the back of the book.

We read this one when she was 2.

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And then attended an “Aurora Tea”, where she was able to see excerpts from the ballet and meet the ballerinas:
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4. Interact with your child while listening to classical music.Playing music for your child shows you value it, and asking questions and playing games with her teaches her how to listen and appreciate it. You don’t have to overthink it or get super creative. Sometimes I’ll turn on a tune that my kids think is hilarious, like Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and my 1 year old will bounce and laugh (his version of dancing) and my 4-year-old will race around the room hysterically with movement scarves (her version of dancing).  Sometimes, if we’re listening to a classical piece in the car, I’ll ask my 4-year old what instruments she hears? Or what story she thinks the composer was trying to tell?Which brings me to my last suggestion…5. Tell your child about composers.

Yaya is totally fascinated by the lives of composers. When I really think about their world through her eyes, it makes sense. Beethoven didn’t like to bathe. Mozart wore a crazy wig. Bach had twenty children. That’s interesting stuff, peeps.I like to read books from Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series to her. Here’s one of her favorites from the series, about Mozart.

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Some of the info is a little over her head, but the pictures are entertaining and educational, and there’s tons of really interesting information that is at her level about each composer.What about you? What ways have you exposed your little one to the world of classical music? Please share below!
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  1. […] and imparting a love of music to my kids is something I am very passionate about. When I shared ideas for introducing your child to classical music back in August, one of my suggestions was to actually attend symphony performances with your little ones. Our […]

  2. […] Now that our little guy is home, I’ve broadened this blog to include a little bit of everything. Aside from being an adoptive mama, I’m also a piano teacher — so you may find occasional posts that share ideas about instilling music appreciation in your child. […]

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