Listening to and learning about classical music have been proven time and time again to improve brain function in all humans, especially in children. Learning an instrument can literally make your kids smarter! While learning an instrument offers the most developmental advantages, many parents prefer to introduce music in other ways before committing to an instrument. Here are some ways to bring classical music into your daily life to help your kids fall in love with it!
Play Classical Music Everywhere
It’s important that classical music is alive within your home and that it’s played as often as possible. Play classical music in the car on the way to school, as background music while you’re in the kitchen cooking, and while your kids are getting ready for bed. Make classical music a part of everyday life! You can incorporate classical music into your holidays too. Here are some great options for seasonal classical pieces to play for your family:
Valentines Day: Romeo and Juliet: ‘Fantasy Overture’ by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
President’s Day: Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa
Easter: Russian Easter Festival Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Independence Day: 1812 Overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Halloween: In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg
Christmas: The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Acting With Classical Music
Classical music is full of storytelling and drama and can be a great way to have your kids get in touch with their imaginations while listening. Take any popular piece of classical music (Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) and have your kids describe the emotions of each section they hear. From there, have your kids build a story around it that can be acted out while the music is playing in the background.
A few pieces are especially great for a game like this. One of PianoCub.com‘s favorites is Camille Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals. Each movement of this terrific piece depicts a member of the animal kingdom (chickens, elephants, kangaroos, tortoises, etc). Simply play one of these movements and have your children pretend to be the animal they hear — this is a sure way for them to have a ton of fun while listening to music!
Another terrific piece to play this game with is Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Each short movement of this piece musically depicts a character, scene, or action to tell the story. Like with Carnival of the Animals, ask your children to act out the scene they hear or they can listen to the colorful music and come up with a story of their very own.
Both pieces can be found in a single recording, which you can access here on Spotify.
Listen To Film Scores
Orchestral music is everywhere in movies and it can be fun to relive a film by listening to its musical score. Whether the movie is a Disney musical or an epic action adventure, encourage your children to notice the orchestral score behind it. Purchase soundtracks from your children’s favorite movies and play them around them in the house or in the car. When a particularly evocative track comes on, have your kids describe the part of the movie that the music represents or go a step further and have them act out the scene itself.
Freely Explore Instruments
Having lots of instruments in your house is a great way to encourage your kids to freely explore music and sound on a daily basis. These instruments don’t need to be expensive, but should just be present in their lives. It will encourage your kids to have fun with creating music however they please without any expectation of doing things right or wrong. Musical expression is innate to human beings and especially so to a child who is free of inhibitions — allow your kids to independently see what they can come up with.
Once your children become familiar with exploring music instruments freely, you can try building your own! Something as simple as banging on pots and pans can make terrific drums. Encourage your kids to see music everywhere and have fun by continually exploring it at all time!
Classical music for children provides an incredible opportunity for your kids to be creative and imaginative. Use any of the recommended activities above or be inventive and come up with one on your own. Whatever you do to bring classical music into your daily life, keep it fun and your kids will fall in love with it!
Thomas Kotcheff is a contributor to PianoCub.com. He is a Los Angeles based composer and concert pianist with a passion for sharing classical music with the world.