Classical music resources for kids.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

For the past six months, Liam has developed an increasing love for classical music and composers. It seemed to come out of nowhere and has grown with very little prompting from Shawn or me. It's truly one of my favorite parts of homeschooling him this year. While he can't name one Star Wars character or even professional athlete, he knows dozens of composers and even writes about them in his secret diary. We listen to classical radio in the car, per his request, and he can often identify the composer and period by the instrumentation, tempo, and themes. I know I'm biased, but it's truly an amazing thing to witness - especially from a 6-year-old. Just the other day, he said, "Mommy, I'm kind of confused why every time I hear 'The Well Tempered Clavier' by Bach it's played on the piano, when harpsichord was way more popular during the Baroque period." And the other day, I was proud of myself for being able to hum a short excerpt from Dvorak's New World Symphony, and Liam commented, "That was so good, Mommy! Except it wasn't in E minor." His aptitude for this has consistently blown me away.

While I do think Liam's interest in classical music goes beyond what most children's (or adults') ever may, I thought I'd share a few great resources we've found in case others are interested (click on the pictures to take you to the Amazon links).


The Story of the Orchestra is my very favorite resource we've found. It goes through many of the major classical composers and comes with a CD that they can hear excerpts of their most famous pieces. In a homeschool setting, it's perfect. But we've also just enjoyed looking through it and listening to the CD in a less formal way. I highly recommend this as a first look at classical music for elementary-age kids.

This one is a great resource for older kids as the writing is a bit more detailed, and it has some fun activities, like making a model eardrum. Beethoven is the composer who first captured Liam's attention. His music is intense and ground-breaking, and his story is fascinating. We've loved this book about his life. 

This is our most recent find and it's a great one. It also has multiple volumes available. This first volume features 17 composers and includes a detailed summary of their life and greatest works, some fun facts, and a crossword or word search or game at the end. It also includes a CD so you can hear their most famous pieces. I read that this was written for upper elementary or middle school ages, but with a good reader and adequate interest, it can be used by younger children, too. Liam and I have been going through one composer a week and really studying his work. I was definitely ready to move on from hearing Scarlatti's harpsichord music after an entire week of it. ;) 

HoffmanAcademy.com
For piano lessons, we are currently using Hoffman Academy and can't sing its praises enough. It's a go-at-your-own-pace online curriculum that costs $18/month and is very comprehensive. The students learn ear training, sight reading, music theory, correct posture and fingering. We use it for both Liam and Lanie (at their respective levels) and they do a lesson or two a week, then practice what they've learned with printable worksheets and some guidance from Mom and Dad. Eventually, I want all of our kids to have formal, in-person piano lessons. But for right now, this has been a wonderful (and doable) resource for our family.



And finally, a little interview with the future composer himself, Liam Worth Newby:

What first made you interested in classical music?
When I first made a "Liam's classical music" playlist (on Spotify). I love to listen to different pieces every day.

Who is your favorite composer?
Edvard Grieg. Some of my other favorites are Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Liszt, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

What is your favorite classical piece?
Probably Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart.

What is your favorite instrument in the orchestra?
The violin

What did you spend your Amazon gift card on and why?
A conductor's baton because I wanted to practice conducting so that I can take my Poppy's job someday.

Who is your favorite conductor?
Sir Simon Rattle. I love how he conducts.

How do you think other children can get started learning about classical music?
By getting a classical music educational book and making a Spotify playlist of their favorite classical music pieces.
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