Getting your kids soaked in classical from an early age is a wonderful thing (provided they enjoy it, of course). I’m sure there are loads of studies out there on the Inter-Webs or housed in dusty university libraries that will support my hypothesis: classical music is really, really good for your kids’ rapidly developing brains.
My daughter definitely enjoys classical, and it’s been a joy to watch her absorb it. We have played it for her literally since the day she was born. She likes it as a background while playing, reading and eating breakfast and lunch, and will also request it when we’re in the car (if she’s not in a Raffi, Harry Connick Jr. or the new Broadway cast recording of Cinderella state of mind). We took her to see a chamber performance of Peter and the Wolf, and they had an “instrument petting zoo” afterwards. I have made it my mission to teach her that worlds of incredible music exist that have absolutely nothing to do with ridiculous purple dinosaurs or strange men from Australia.
I prefer, even for babies, classical recordings featuring the actual instruments for which the piece was written. In other words, not Brahms’ Lullaby played on the vibraphone. In my mind you’re never too young to hear a flute, an oboe or a cello. (Word to the wise: Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor sounds absolutely ridiculous on a vibraphone. Trust me.)
To me, one of the best things about classical music is that there is SO much of it. There are worlds of Haydn and Boccherini and Smetana that I have yet to discover. It’s nice to know that there will always be something new to hear, and as a parent, that makes weaving classical into your child’s life that much more exciting. Below you’ll find what might be floating around our house, broken down into some very practical categories. Enjoy!
Music For The Sunrise: Grieg, “Morning Mood“ From Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, this opener is delicate and lush. It will also cause you to wonder if you’ve heard it in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Music For Tickling: Mozart, Rondo alla Turca Who knew classical piano could tickle you? Give it a try!
Music For Rainy Days: Chopin, Nocturne Opus 9 No. 1 in B-flat minor All of Chopin’s nocturnes are perfect for days when rain is coursing down your windows, but I’ve always found this one particularly evocative.
Music For Stomping: Debussy, “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” The last movement of the wonderful six-movement “Children’s Corner Suite”. A golliwog is an old-fashioned doll, and a cakewalk is…well, I just hope it involves actual cake. Ooh, it does! Thanks, Wikipedia!
Music For Running In Circles: Beethoven, Rondo a capriccio Evgeny Kissin and his hair engulf the piano keys in flames in this live performance. No need for running in circles, I’m exhausted just watching him.
Music For Laughing: J. Strauss, Adele’s Laughing Aria (from “Die Fledermaus”) Sibling the Younger may or may not remember listening to this as children while jumping recklessly on my bed (and yes, laughing) when we were supposed to be sleeping. It’s just that kind of piece.
Music For Hide-and-Seek: Britten, Simple Symphony, second movement, “Playful Pizzicato” This piece is so much fun and has great texture. Ready…get set…here I come!
Music For Flying: Wagner, “Ride of the Valkyries“ (from “Die Walküre”) And what a ride this is! It’s SO powerful. Serendipitously, it saves you from sitting through the entirety of the opera “Die Walküre”, which is five hours long.
Music For Hurrying: Rossini, Finale to the William Tell Overture One afternoon, my daughter and I were trying to get to our local recycling center before it closed, and we were running behind. I turned on the radio and of COURSE this was playing. Hilarious. We made it.
Music For Winding Down: Satie, Gymnopédie No. 1 So, so lovely. I never tire of hearing those plaintive notes.
Music For Tiptoeing: Grieg, “Anitra’s Dance“ Henrik Ibsen wrote the play “Peer Gynt” (for which Grieg wrote the incidental music). Being a thief, Anitra definitely needed to tiptoe!
Music For Stargazing: Holst, The Planets, second movement, “Venus” One of my neighbors is a very bright sixth-grader for whom the universe holds great fascination and mystery. This one’s for you! It’s cool, quiet and perfect for picking out constellations.