This past weekend I attended the Bluegrass Chamber Music Festival held at Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, KY. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center gave concerts and lectures and treated the concert goers to some truly beautiful, difficult, intricate and rousing selections of music. Some of the music was rather familiar, like Saint-Seans' "The Swan" and Mozart's Quartet in E Flat Major, and some of it was lesser known. But it was all expertly played and was varied enough to give the listener an idea of the range and complexity of chamber music.
Today, I am going to recommend some music that I heard this weekend that would be good music to introduce to your preschoolers. I don't view any of these selections (except one) as appropriate for use in a formal music class for preschoolers, Rather, these are songs that will be good for passive listening with them. Our young children need to be encouraged to listen to high quality music and to learn at an early age that not all 'classical' music sounds alike.
So, pull out your CD-R and get ready to burn a CD of wonderful chamber music to share with your students!
The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens This song from The Carnival of the Animals is the one song from this group that I would use for a formal music lesson with preschoolers.
Some ideas for this song:
- Print off pictures of a cello and piano and talk about the different sounds of the two instruments
- Have a high school or college cellist come to your class and play this song for your students (My 15 year old daughter just learned it (she's been playing 3 years), so a serious high school student could pay this). Ask local music schools, high school orchestra teachers or local youth orchestra directors for recommendations.
- Have the children create a Swan Dance! Improvise slow, graceful movements that depict a swan gliding through the water.
- For younger students (18 months - young 3's), pull out the scarves and let the children dance with the scarves while the music plays.
- Talk about Forte sounds (loud) and Piano sounds (soft). Is this song Forte or Piano? Gentle or Foot Stomping? Have children go around the room and say "I love to eat___________", first in a loud voice (remind them Forte does not mean to scream!) and then in a Piano voice (Our Swan Voice!).
Suite, Op. 34, 3rd Movement: Tournier - a perfect song for getting the kids to settle down. Beware - this song is so beautiful it may make you want to cry!