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September is classical music month!

What a great thing to share with a child! And when I say child, I  mean the child in everyone.

I can sense some odd looks as you read that comment. Today when we think classical music it conjures images of concert halls, dressing up, trying to sit still and applaud at only the correct moment. Orchestras generally spring to mind when you think classical music. Some people think of music that puts them to sleep.

Yes, all that can be true.  And, it can be very exciting to dress for and to attend a concert (yes, I am being honest.) And, yes I think it is an important social skill for children to learn concert etiquette. How I behave at a rock concert or at a sport event is different from how I act when attending a concert or theatre event. The National Association for Music Education (formerly known as MENC) has a great guide to concert etiquette.

While  this is true, there are SO MANY MORE ways we can connect with classical music! And, many of those ways start with the inner child. Here are four for you to try in the safety and comfort of your own home.

1. Watch one of these movies that has a classical music base.

2, Draw while listening to one of these selections.  Now I’m giving you a YouTube link for listening not to direct your image. Just have fun and see what comes out

3. Move/dance while listening. Come on now, it isn’t that difficult. Watch a toddler listening to music. Here are a few easy ideas.

  • Break out sheets of wax paper larger than your feet. On a solid surface, “skate” around on the wax paper while listening to “The Skater’s Waltz“.
  • Move with a scarf free form while listening to Holst’s Mars from the Planets. What emotions do you hear? How does that affect how you move?
  • Reflect in your movements the Variations on America by Charles Ives. Have a good laugh as some of them are pretty funny variations.

4. Get comfortable and relax while listening to one of these selections.

As extras, for the “adult” in you, try learning a little more about classical music in areas that interest you.

  • If you like movies, check out tis Naxos listing of Classical Music in Movies. Spend a little time considering why that music was selected for that soundtrack.
  • If you like a particular period of history, learn who the big composers were in that period. What were the instruments like for which they composed? For whom did they compose? In what settings was the music heard?
  • Interested in people? Read about composers.
  • Into science? There are some great books out there including works of Dr. Oliver Sacks and Daniel Levitin.
  • Enjoy listening to popular music? Research on-line some pop songs inspired (or based upon) classical works. See if you can uncover how the original work relates to the classical work.

Which form of “active” listening did you most enjoy? Which did your child (or the child inside you) most enjoy? Share your comments. And enjoy Classical Music Month!

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