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Classical Music For Children

Classical for Children

Articles A Beginner's Guide to Classical Music Music Periods Music Styles Collecting Classical Compact Discs Boxed Sets Glenn Gould Classical Music for Children

Disney's Fantasia
The BBC news reported recently that in a nationwide survey of 600 children aged between 6 and 14, only 11% could name a classical performer and only 35% could name a single classical composer.

Some named Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson as classical composers.

This is a disaster, especially when we consider that there is a general decline in interest in classical music even in the adult population. People now feed on factory-produced food and factory-made pop music.

So you love classical music, and you've got children. How can we ensure that they don't miss out on the some of the greatest musical creations of western civilisation?

Here are our suggestions:
  • Make classical music a natural part of daily life
  • Never force classical music on children
  • Never ban other forms of music
    (however, watch for obscene or disturbing lyrics)
  • Mix classical with other forms of music through the day
  • Let children choose their own separate collection of classical CDs
  • Encourage your children to learn a musical instrument
The idea is that they will grow up regarding all forms of music as normal, hopefully develop eclectic tastes and they wont be frightened to death on hearing a symphony in later life.

What follows below is our recommendation for classical CD's and DVD's for children:

Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals
Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

The most famous and most common children's classical coupling, the charming story of Peter and the Wolf brought to life by Prokofiev's beautiful music, Saint-Saens' “zoological fantasy” and Benjamin Britten's description of how an orchestra works, this CD is a delight for children of all ages.

Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals
Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

A different take on the same works. Fans of NPR will love there tongue-in-cheek pseudo-news reporting style of Peter and the Wolf and the littlies will love the story and music. The words to Carnival of the Animals are by PDQ Bach, and are hilarious.

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet
If there was a single piece of music by a single composer that I had to recommend for children, it would have to be Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Ballet. This performance of the complete ballet (on 2 CDs) is a treasure, a box of musical delights. Maurice Sendak's masterful illustrations enhance experience.

Baby Dance: A Toddler's Jump on the Classics
Have you got a toddler who just can't keep still? This is music chosen especially to appeal to the 18-48 month age group will let them burn off excess energy. It includes the most dancable, stompiest music from Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and many more, in short attention-keeping snippets. Great for kids parties!

Beethoven Lives Upstairs
The arrival of an eccentric boarder turns a young boy's life upside down. Ludwig van Beethoven has moved in upstairs! A brilliant audio drama that brings the Beethoven and his music to life in a entertaining and informative way. Part of the Classical Kids Series that also includes Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Mozart's Magic Fantasy, Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery, Tchaikovsky Discovers America, and Hallelujah Handel.

The Mozart Effect: Music for Children Vol 1-3
The term “Mozart Effect” was coined by educator Don Campbell after research showed that babies and children who listened to classical music, and Mozart in particular, had heightened mental skills, physical co-ordination and learning abilities. This 3 CD set includes the entire spectrum of Mozarts music. Its great for adults too.

Walt Disney's Fantasia
Disney's 1940 animated feature film was revolutionary. For the first time, classical music was the star. This is a guaranteed way to get your kids to enjoy classical music. Includes Bach's Toccata and Fugue, Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, and even Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. The Sorcerer's Apprentice is one of the best known pieces of animation ever and the dancing mushrooms in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is a show-stopper. Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain may be a little scary for very littlies.

Available as the DVD (top) or soundtrack CD (below).

Disney's Fantasia 2000
Walt Disney's aim with Fantasia was that it would be a continually changing movie with new episodes added and old ones removed. While that was never realised, this new version of Fantasia continues in the tradition of the original. Breathtaking animation set to wondrous, irresistable classical music. Highlights include the whales swimming to Respighi's Pines of Rome and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue animated in 1930's style. An instant classic.

Available as the DVD (top) or soundtrack CD (below).

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