Classical Music – A New Way to Teach It
- Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Have you found a classical music program that works for your preschool children as well as for your older children? Do they become excited about classical music? Since classical music is much more complex than popular music, children need some special way to "connect" to it.
In order to listen to classical music with understanding and pleasure, children, as well as adults, must recognize the main themes, the melodies. As a music teacher, I tried many different ways to teach classical music. The children liked the music, but there was no great excitement. Then, just for fun, I wrote simple lyrics for a few classical music themes. They included the names of both composer and composition. These were the themes the children asked to sing again and again. They loved them, remembered them, and wanted to play them on an instrument. I have found that theme recognition is a "must" and that lyrics are the key to remembering classical music themes. Lyrics make the abstract concrete.
Developing and Producing a Curriculum
I was very disturbed with much of the popular music bombarding the ears of our children. I knew that if I could "hook" children on classical music when they are very young, they would have a lifetime adventure with quality music. It would enrich their entire lives. It became a mission for me to develop a curriculum and produce the materials to achieve my objectives.
As I look back, I am amazed at how God worked in our lives to provide the people we needed to make the project work. My husband, a retired engineer, and I volunteered to spend two years in Oaxaca, Mexico, with Wycliffe Bible Translators teaching the children of missionaries. He taught science and math, and I taught history, literature, and music. While there I wrote lyrics to 100 of the most beautiful classical music themes and taught them to my students. I was amazed at how quickly they learned the themes and how well they remembered them. These lyrics became the foundation of my program.
One of my literature students sat in my classes every day and drew. When I was teaching Beowulf, he was drawing dragons and Viking ships! I was a bit peeved until I asked him questions and found that he had indeed been listening. I let him draw. He is now in graduate school studying Bible history and youth ministry. He is the creative young artist who draws the delightful illustrations for our books.
When we returned to the United States, we formed a company, Classical Magic, to produce and publish our books with CDs and related teaching materials. We found a local Christian recording studio and music students from nearby Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, to record the music and lyrics on CDs that are included in each book.
We also needed a portrait artist and had no idea where to find one. An acquaintance of one of our daughters happened to be a professional portrait artist. She produced the 41 wonderful composer portraits in the books.
An illustrator, a recording studio, musicians, and a portrait artist--not an accident. God provided all we needed to accomplish our mission.
The Classical Magic® series includes four library-quality books with CDs: Themes to Remember, Volumes 1 and 2; Classical Karaoke for Kids; and Antonin Dvorák, From the New World, with Lyrics. Teacher's guides, enlarged composer portraits, and reproducibles of lyrics with illustrations enhance the program.
The Basic Program
I have found that adults are sometimes so serious about classical music that they get bogged down with concepts and composer facts, and the children tune out! I urge teachers to remember that theme and composer recognition is basic and that lyrics are the best way to remember classical music themes. We must "hook" children on the themes first and teach concepts later. It is important to teach many themes quickly to build excitement for and love of classical music.
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