Classical music can teach a child every aspect of music including, harmony,themes, dynamics, polymeters, and polyrhythms. These are the components that arescarce in modern music today. The three major components of variation aremelody, rhythm, and meter. Variation is an important key to teach a child sothat they understand the there are many different ways to approach music andlife. The composer Lucien Caillet wrote many variations on the theme Pop Goesthe Weasel.
Most children have heard this tune in cartoons or songs at schoolnot realizing the classical context. This is a wonderful piece for childrenbecause of the dramatic and calm instrumentals followed by the variations of thetheme. The music has a whimsical cheerful feel to it and is a perfect examplefor an introduction, theme, five variations of the theme followed by a coda. These are all important parts of a piece for a child to recognize.
WolfgangAmadeus Mozart is a remarkable composer that all children should study. Thepiece, Ah, Vous Dirai-je, Maman is perfect for a child in that itresembles a well known nursery rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Thispiece is also an example of variations of theme. This begins as a simple melodytransforming into a complex variation containing a difference in meterthroughout the variations with in an increase in tempo.
The composition has avery light and cheerful familiar sound to it and could easily attract theattention of a child. The use of sensory imagery in music, impressionism, isanother form helpful to increase interest and make music enjoyable. ModestPetrovich Mussorgsky composed a piece, Promenade, from pictures of anexhibition solely around an art exhibition. This is a dark and gloomysymphony that represents a marching soldier and paints a vivid picture of anarmy. Another composer using imagery was Aram Khachaturian, he composed a workcalled Sabre Dance.
This is an extremely energetic powerful piece thatpaints a definite picture of a chase and catch situation. This can be found inmany cartoons today which allows a child to relate the classical music to ahumorous situation. The piece is filled with energy and caused my seven year oldbrother to dance and run around the room. He enjoyed this piece the most andsaid it reminded him of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. . A modern classical composer,Steve Reich wrote Different Trains, this is a classic example of sensoryimagery.
The composer uses many counts of ostinato, tempo, and meter changes toportray the sounds of different trains in different cities. The sampled soundspaint a colorful picture and make the piece very interesting and unique. Theoriginality yet classical makeup attracts children and adults to imagine movingtrains. Dynamics, softness and loudness in music, is another important part ofmusical composition. Franz Joseph Haydn wrote The Surprise Symphony thatdeveloped a variation in the dynamic level.
This piece was written for aspecial after dinner concert. Haydyn knew that many people used this time for anafterdinner nap so he used calm string music to relax and secure his audience. He gave them just enough time to begin to doze and then CRASH! The wholeorchestra would play a chord as loud as possible (Bond 59). This humorousstory and musical piece brings a sense of laughter and a delightful mood to themusic.
Children seem to respond the most to the light and humorous feel tomusic. This sets a good example of a soft dynamic level followed by adramatically loud one. This gives a sense a possible dynamic variety in onework. A rondo, musical form in which the first section is repeated several timeswith a different section between each of the repeats (Staton 179), is asignificant form a child should be taught.
The Viennese Musical Clock byZoltan Kodaly performs a rondo in a simple yet entertaining way. This piece isanother example of imagery, the sounds of the clock melody produces a picture oflittle figurines dancing around an old fashioned clock. The mood is happy andjoyful, very enjoyable for a child to learn. Narrative is a form of music thattells a story.
The Nutcracker is a narrative ballet about a little girlsChristmas Eve in a time long ago, and the nutcracker that she receives as apresent (Staton 92). This story begins with an overture, an introductionplayed by the orchestra, by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This introduction sets themood for the story. During the overture guests arrive for a wonderful party atClaras house (Staton 92). Clara receives a wonderful present from Herrdrosselmeyer, a nutcracker in the shape of a soldier.
The girls brother andfriends are jealous of this present and grab it, accidentally breaking it. Claragoes to bed but unable to sleep because of her sadness. She goes downstairs tocheck on her precious broken nutcracker to find the soldier come to life andmarch into battle against an army of mice. This scene leads into Marchalso composed by Tchaikovsky. Clara throws her shoe at the mouse king ending thebattle. The soldier turns into a beautiful prince and to thank Clara, he invitesher to the Kingdom of Sweets.
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is the resultof this. The prince and Clara sit upon a great throne to watch as dancersperform the Russian Dance, dancing about in tall boots and hats. This isan energetic dance with an extremely fast tempo. The various dances to followare of many other great lands; Arabia and China.
The Arabian dance is muchslower and flowing. The Chinese dance is delightful and uplifting. The Danceof the Reed Pipes is a piece played predominantly on three flutes with lightbackground accompaniment of an orchestra. This also contains a repeat of thefirst section but would not be considered a rondo. The instruments in the secondsection change from flutes to horns, giving it a powerful energetic feel. Thefirst flowing flute section is repeated with a strong conclusion from thecymbals.
The narration concludes with Waltz of the Flowers. This is whenthe sugar plum fairies call for all the flowers to dance a dreamy final dance. This is a beautiful conclusion introduced by a harp and many horns leading intoa waltz. Clara leaves the Kingdom of Sweets filled with happy dreams andthoughts. This narration is a wonderful work for children.
This is filled with avariety of dramatic and cheerful pieces to delight a child. The thoughts ofChristmas along with presents and a Kingdom of Sweets is enough to keep a childdelighted. Music in any form is important for all people to have in their lives. When a child is introduced to various forms of music at an early age it helps tobroaden their minds and see the beauty outside of material things. It isimportant for a child to learn to have an open mind before the mishaps of lifehave a chance to close them. BibliographyBond, Judy and Vincent Lawrence.
Share the Music Third Edition. MacmillanPublishing Company, 1995. Bond, Judy and Vincent Lawrence. Share the MusicSecond Edition.
Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988. Staton, Barbara and MerillStaton. Music and You Fifth Grade. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1968.
Staton,Barbara and Merill Staton. Music and You Forth Grade. Macmillan PublishingCompany, 1978.Music and Musicians