Is it necessary to study only one composer at a time and to schedule it in for every Tuesday after copywork?
No, it isn't.
Now, there is certainly nothing at all wrong with that approach. I am a huge fan of Charlotte Mason and her teachings. I believe that the mothers out there who are following her educational philosophy to the letter are giving their children a stellar education! I think it is a beautiful thing to study one composer for 12 weeks, learning 6 specific compositions and reading a biography of that composer.
I am just here to tell those of you who don't quite get it in each week that that is not the only way to cultivate a love for music in your children and family. It is possible to do it in a more organic fashion if that style fits your family better.
How do we inspire that love for classical and other types of music in our home?
One of the most important aspects, I believe, is that we do not make it a "school subject". We listen to it. We listen to it a lot. It is playing as I type this. We play it. We look pieces up online and check out books about composers that strike our fancy. We attend the symphony and enjoy a wide array of performances. We've enjoyed everything from the simple and elegant Beethoven's Eroica to the wildly entertaining John Williams' Spectacular ... and everything in between.
We've approached music "study" in multiple ways. In some of our more structured learning seasons, we have "studied" Bach and Beethoven and Vivaldi and Mozart. During those times, we would listen to our "current composer" during all of our seated lessons. We would read Mike Venezia's and/or Opal Wheeler's biography of that composer. We would look for audio stories that included the music of that composer and we would look for videos.
We've also spent some time "studying" the Opera and the Orchestra in general and the Ballet. When we did that, we listened to Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker over and over at home and then we went to see the ballet performed (we do this every year during the Holiday season) and we actually recognized and knew all of the songs. We read aloud the story of The Nutcracker and watched videos on ballet in general. We listened to Peter and the Wolf and learned about each of the instruments in the Orchestra and then we watched the cartoon of Peter and the Wolf and recognized those instruments in the show. We learned about the Opera and listened to some opera on Pandora and then followed that up by watching an animated version of Mozart's The Magic Flute Opera put on by the BBC. We also watched Hansel and Gretel: An Opera Fantasy.
There are ways like that to make it intentional and fun. But, if you're finding it difficult to fit it in, you can also just get in the habit of listening to classical music in your home. Our current learning season finds us listening to classical music every day. I prefer to just keep Pandora set on a station made by either Vivaldi or Beethoven or Classical Christmas or something of the like. At this point, the girls know and recognize many, many different compositions by many different composers. They have favorite composers and favorite compositions. Every time a song comes on that they like and/or know, they run to the computer to see what it is called. Nine times out ten, they already know what it is and who it is by. And, that is through no formal instruction.
We are also blessed to have an amazing Symphony Orchestra here. They have a very full schedule each year. Honestly, many of those shows are expensive and we simply cannot afford to go. But, we do have something called a "Sound Check Card". Simply put, you buy a card for each child/student at the beginning of the season and that card will get them into any of the Masterworks shows and any of the Coffee Series shows (mid-morning, weekday versions of the Masterworks shows) for free. And, their accompanying adult (that would be me) pays only $10.00 for their ticket. We have not yet been to a night show, but we make a point to go to all of the Coffee Series shows. We've seen some really amazing shows this way ~ Fabio Mechetti, Maestro's Choice, the John Williams Spectacular, West Side Story, Aaron Copland, Violin Concertos, selections from Phantom of the Opera, Brahms Symphony No. 1, Haydn Symphony No. 96, and most recently, Beethoven's Eroica (funny thing ... the Princess was so excited to see Beethoven, but she fully expected to hear Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor. She was a bit disappointed that they didn't play that. I had to explain that the Eroica was a different composition). Some of the other shows we are looking forward to this year include a Holiday special, Brahm's Symphony No. 2, a symphony presentation of Romeo and Juliet, Verdi Requiem, Rachmaninoff and more.
Don't forget that music appreciation is not just about classical composers! We also enjoy learning hymns and listening to hymns on Pandora. We enjoy folk songs and always try to attach music to any of our other learning by listening to Celtic Music while studying that part of the world or listening to German Music while eating a traditional German meal and so on. Bring it in wherever you can and your children are sure to want to dance and sing and play along.
Mine sure do!
How do you get your family to appreciate quality music?
Until next time,
~ Irie Momma