Beyond Peter and the Wolf - 7 Great Pieces to Introduce Your Kids to Classical Music
If you love classical music, then you want to share that love and excitement with the children in your life. But how? How do you introduce children to classical music in a way that helps them feel the humor, the great rhythm, and the emotion in the music without boring them or making them feel like they're stuck in school? By picking pieces they will love. Children have an innate sense of musicality and rhythm that we adults can nurture. Play music for the kids in your life - and just watch how they react!
If they want to dance around the kitchen - let them. If they want to bang pots - let them. If it lulls them to sleep, so be it. Just keep exposing them to great pieces, take them to concerts (many symphonies now present kid-friendly performances), and, before you know it, you'll have another music lover in the family.
Here are 7 of my favorite classical pieces for children***:
- Mother Goose Suite by Maurice Ravel - Ravel wrote the work for the children of close friends. What lucky little children!
- Carnival of the Animals by Camille St. Saens - It's playful, it has humor and what I like best of all is that St. Saens plays off of famous (and important) melodies of other composers like Rossini, Chopin and Mendelssohn. By all means get a recording with the poetry of Ogden Nash or Bruce Adolphe. Kids will love it all the more.
- The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten - Love that with this piece children enjoy the music but also learn about the sections of the orchestra.
- Lullaby by George Gershwin - In my opinion the most beautiful lullaby ever written. Peaceful, calm and beautiful and all the while so very Gershwin. I hum this melody to my niece Cupcake every chance I get and she loves it.
So far this has all been orchestral but babies and children are open to opera too.
- Papagena/Papageno Duet from The Magic Flute by Mozart - You don't have to explain anything to your little ones. They will understand that this is playful, fun music. And wouldn't you be proud if one of the first melodies your baby sings is one by Mozart?
- Largo Al Factotum from The Barber of Seville by Rossini - I realize I am repeating myself but this IS funny and silly and playful.
- The Children's Prayer from Hansel and Gretel by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck - Yes, the composer, not the pop star. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Here are the words that accompany this beautiful melody.
When at night I go to sleep
Fourteen angels watch do keep
Two my head are guarding
Two my feet are guiding
Two are on my right hand
Two are on my left hand
Two who warmly cover
Two who oer me hover
Two to whom tis given
To guide my steps to heaven
Sleeping sofly, then it seems
Heaven enters in my dreams;
Angels hover round me,
Whisp'ring they have found me;
Two are sweetly singing,
Two are garlands bringing,
Strewing me with roses
As my soul reposes.
God will not forsake me
When dawn at last will wake me
What are some of your favorite classical music pieces for children? Do you remember listening to classical music as a child?
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