I didn’t grow up liking classical music. The little exposure that I had made me think that it’s boring. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t enjoy it and didn’t make sense to me at all.
My second career as a Kindermusik educator has remedied this and broadened my taste in music. Listening to, dancing with, and playing along music are now some of my favorite things to do with my children.
Late last year, I bought the complete set of Maestro Classics CDs, a series that uses stories to introduce children to classical music. Performed by “the greatest recording orchestra in the world,” the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the musical performances are just heavenly!
The free Homeschool Curriculum Guides convinced me to splurge on a set – during a sale, of course! Published on its website for everyone’s benefit, the guides cover history, science, geography, language arts, art, music, and math! The website has loads of information and links that make listening an active and well-rounded experience for children… and their parents.
It was exactly what I was looking for to encourage our family to have a deep appreciation of classical music.
Learning Through Music
Little T really fell in love with Russia when we visited it with “Another Celebrated Dancing Bear.” I decided to linger there some more and explore the country through another well-loved story.
“Peter and the Wolf” is set in Russia and is one of the albums in the Maestro Classics CDs. It is about a boy named Peter who tricks and catches a wolf with the help of some animal friends.
We first encountered the story in a picture book some time ago, but never fully appreciated it until we devoted more than a week to listening to the recording and following the suggestions in the curriculum guide.
Little T couldn’t get enough of it and would listen even to the conductor’s explanation about the music and the instruments used!
Here are some of the ways that helped us enjoy the classical masterpiece.
We Studied Where The Music Is From
For our extended “trip” to Russia, we made the country’s flag and located Ukraine on the map and on our children’s atlas. Ukraine used to be part of Russia and it is where the composer, Profokiev was born. We continued playing too with our matrioshka dolls and finished the Russian skyline that we began the week before.
Learned About The Orchestra
We enjoyed a live orchestra once when we watched prima ballerina Lisa Macuja in Giselle. We prepared for the experience not only by reading books about the ballet, but also about the orchestra. “Zin! Zin! A Violin!” by Lloyd Moss, “The Orchestra” by Mark Rubin, and “Ah, Music!” by Aliki were some of the books that we read.
It was a great review for Little T, then, as she listened and tried to identify the instruments being played in “Peter and the Wolf.”
The fact that the CD explains that each character has an assigned instrument greatly helped in practicing our focused listening skills too.
Had A Musical Story Time
As suggested in the curriculum guide, we set a story into music. We chose “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and used a drum, egg shakers, sand blocks, a tambourine, and a slide whistle to tell the story. It was a memorable family activity that inspired 2-year-old Little Sir to strum the dulcimer while singing “Goodnight Gorilla” later that day!
Maestro Classics provides musical stories that children enjoy and that make classical music relatable and highly interesting. The Homeschool Curriculum Guide is tremendously helpful, whether you are homeschooling or not, for making the music soar beyond what is heard.