By Casey Margerum
To the young ear, classical music can be tricky to figure out. A wordless concerto or a foreign language aria can feel impossible to understand, and lengthy runtimes can cause kids to squirm in their seats.
Our new Classical Kids playlist is the perfect place to start introducing children to the genre! It contains a little bit of everything—symphonic pieces, solo instrumental works, opera, art song, and choral pieces. It’s upbeat, fun, and bubbly, and all of the pieces convey a strong emotion or tell an easy-to-understand story.
Schubert tells of ill-fated trouts, Rimsky-Korsakov illustrates the frantic buzzing of bumblebees, Bernstein protests music outright, and Whitacre shares some extremely dramatic thoughts on cows.
As your children listen to this music, make it as interactive as possible. Encourage them to dance and sing along to the pieces – ask kids to make words up if it’s instrumental or in a foreign language.
They can draw a picture of what they think is happening in the music, or even write or tell you a story based on it. After they share their ideas, tell them the “real” story. Even if some details need to be left out, you can still describe the strong sisters gathering on Wagner’s mountaintop, Belcore’s hilarious boasting, and Juliette’s outburst of joy as she attends her first grand party.
Ask your kids what they like and don’t like, and find more music that suits their tastes. Sit down together and learn about the composers of their favorite pieces, about why they wrote them, about what instruments they used to illustrate their ideas. Encourage your kids’ curiosity, and allow yourself to be curious, too!