Many composers have written classical music specifically for children. We may know a few, like Peter and the Wolf, or Carnival of the Animals, but to find an extensive collection that is easy to share with, and actively engage children is not information that is found easily. Kindermusik albums include several short sections of engaging classical music in their recordings to promote awareness and enrichment to expand a child’s musical vocabulary. But there is not room for the full pieces. During the first year of the Kindermusik for the Young Child program, we get to know the instruments of the orchestra, what they look like, how their sounds are uniquely different, often with live demonstrations and hands on experiences. And we are introduced to specific classical works, like “Peter and the Wolf” and “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra”. In coordination with this, I encourage these families to purchase recordings that include the fullness of these pieces, as well as other classical works that help them become more familiar with the orchestra and several composers.
I discovered “Classical Music for Kids” by Decca Recordings and was absolutely astounded at all the pieces, specifically written for children, that were included, as well as the quality of the performances, and the liner notes that share ideas on some fabulous ways to get children actively engaged in the listening process. If buying just ONE set of recordings, I HIGHLY recommend this 2 CD set for every parent with young children, even for infants. It includes:
- Peter & the Wolf – Prokofiev;
- The Carnival of the Animals – Saint-Saens;
- The Flight of the Bumble Bee – Rimsky-Korsakov;
- Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Benjamin Britten
- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Paul Dukas
- The Toy Symphony – Leopold Mozart
- and many other musical pieces about animals, toys, and other things interesting to children.
Please see the FULL LIST OF SELECTIONS on these 2 CDs. This link leads you to an online site that is currently selling this set, but you can also search to see other prices online.
My advice… Just get it! You will be exposing your children to classical music written specifically for them from composers throughout history.
And don’t just listen to it; dance and move creatively with the flow of the music, use both arms to pretend you are directing the orchestra, draw the animal that the music is about; pretend to be the animal, moving the way the music makes you feel, talk about the animal, and why someone would write music about it! The pamphlet that comes in the CD features just such artwork by children, and they have several great ideas for interactive and creative ideas to do with your children.
Another good resource for classical recordings with listening guides and coloring books to engage the children is found on the Music In Motion website, in their Children’s Classics section.
In our Kindermusik classes, the students’ materials include punch out characters for Peter and the Wolf as we tell the story and match the characters with the instruments. There are many delightful interactive materials throughout the two year program that we use to make the music and the story come alive.
Of course, The Children’s Group, featuring Classical Kids series has a huge array of wonderful recordings and resources for children to learn about composers and classical music. The famous Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage, and many more recordings introduce children to the lives of composers through fictional exciting stories that include that composer’s music throughout. Personally, I have about 15 of these composer albums and my children LOVE them ! … almost as much as I do. These audio “books” are a delight for car rides, bathtime listening, relaxation, bedtime stories, and more.
PLEASE SHARE if you are familiar with other recordings, or interactive resources to help children develop a love and understanding of classical music !!!