With the advent of my book, Playtime with Jesus, Devotions for the Littlest Ones, I have heard questions about how to use the classical listening suggestions. And again I have classical listening features on my Art Learning Placemats. I have questions to ask and activities listed there on the back of the fine art placemat, but the question of what to do while we are listening to the music is a great one. I covered lots of fun tips in my post on how to help your kids enjoy classical music. Now here are five things to do while listening to classical music.
Moving to music develops the growing brain by enhancing spatial awareness and balance. It also enhances music appreciation by increasing awareness of rhythm and tempo. So lead the way in a mock ballet, interpretative dance, or actual dance steps to anything from Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 to the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy from the Nutcracker. Trying waving scarves, ribbons, or streamers as you dance. Jumping into and dancing some water ballet in the pool is always a hit.
Once children have been introduced to the instruments of the orchestra (Peter and the Wolf is great for that), a fun and productive activity is to pick out what instruments they are hearing. Meet the Orchestra by Anne Haynes gives a nice visual of each instrument. Classics for Kids has an interactive game featuring the sounds of each section of the orchestra.
I wouldn’t jump right in with a symphony. Start with string quartets or other music you can easily identify. Flight of the Bumblebee is sure to please. When you are ready for more, The Classic Review has beginner’s guides that make composers and pieces accessible to anyone.
While listening to classical music is the perfect time to color, draw, or paint. You can let the music inspire creativity, give a specific assignment that relates to the music, or print out coloring sheets of composers or instruments. Have the kids close their eyes and listen for just a moment. What do they picture? Draw it! Modeling clay and play dough can also be good mediums for creating art while listening to music. Writing a story about the music or matching it to a scene (like a film soundtrack) or photograph is a great exercise in appreciating music, as well.
Playing toy instruments along with the music, banging pots and pans, or pretending to conduct is always fun. Small rhythm instruments like shakers, maracas, cymbals, triangles, or tambourines are perfect for identifying the rhythm of a piece. Be sure to play loud (forte) when the orchestra does, and soft (pianissimo) when it goes quiet. Differentiate between note values. If the note is held long, point that out; if the notes are very short, imitate that with your little instrument.
Encourage kids to pick out a motif (a repeated musical phrase) on the piano. Find an easy version of a piece they enjoy so they can learn it on piano or whatever instrument they enjoy. Eventually they will do it themselves. My oldest picked up Rhapsody in Blue that way.
When your children have begun to read music some (and I hope they do), get music scores from the library or used book store. Check out free music sheets on line. Songs with lyrics are the easiest to start with. Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance is a fun place to launch from. They will learn more from trying to follow along to the score of a string quartet than you could teach them in hours of music theory.
Whatever you do, just listen. There is no need to sit still while you listen, either. Let them play legos, clean their room, or make cookies while classical music plays. While active listening should happen, when a piece is repeated many times over the course of a year, passive listening is great, too. Alexa, play Toccata and Fugue in d Minor by Bach!
Sign up to hang out at Never a Doll Moment each week! I never share your information with anyone. Plus, you will receive my free Long Term Homeschool Planning Worksheet to get you started on an amazing homeschool journey!