Monday, October 25, 2010

Classical Composers for Kids

As I've said before, I am interested in my piano students learning not just the notes on the page, but also the composers. I think the more students know about the classical composers and their lives, the more meaningful the music they are learning will be. 
Here's some resources I love to help reach that goal.
The first is this series of books by Mike Venezia called Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers. Here I've linked to the Mozart book but there are many books in the series along with another series titled Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists. I think the author writes accurately and illustrates humoresly for an enjoyable read for all ages. Besides the illustrations, there are photographs of the art, architecture and times of each composer so the students can get a better visual grasp of the life and times. 

The next is an radio series entitled Classics for Kids. A short radio program about a particular composer and often there are printables or other activities available on the website to go along with the program. Very entertaining. Very well done. Very easy.

Finally, perhaps my favorite of all, is the set of recordings by Susan Hammond of Classical Kids. Right now my students and I are listening to Mozart's Magnificent Voyage. Other titles you may have heard of are Beethoven Lives Upstairs or Mr. Bach Comes to Call. I love, love, love this audio series. The story always focuses around a composer or historical story and a child or children. The music is aptly picked from the composer's own compositions to fit into the story. In that combination, you get a listening treat like no other. The students are captured into the whole story by way of relating with the child, moved by the music and drawn in by their own imagination of the story. I urge you to listen only first. Don't get the movie or the books (at least, not at first). Let your child's mind work without limitations. Then go on from there. What does Mozart look like? What was his opera, The Magic Flute really all about? What does Mozart's son, Karl, become later on in life?

With all of these series, you will find more listening choices. Often, the entire piece is not given, just a short example (except for the Getting to Know series because it's a book).

I hope you and your family will take the time to enjoy some classical music soon! 


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