Music For Children
Music is an important component for all people to posses in their lives. A child should be introduced to music at a very young age. The introduction of every type of music from classical all the way to modern rock is important. This gives a child the ability to form their own opinion to what they might like the best. Classical music can teach a child every aspect of music including, harmony, themes, dynamics, polymeters, and polyrhythms. These are the components that are scarce in modern music today.
The three major components of variation are melody, rhythm, and meter. Variation is an important key to teach a child so that they understand the there are many different ways to approach music and life. The composer Lucien Caillet wrote many variations on the theme ?Pop Goes the Weasel?. Most children have heard this tune in cartoons or songs at school not realizing the classical context. This is a wonderful piece for children because of the dramatic and calm instrumentals followed by the variations of the theme. The music has a whimsical cheerful feel to it and is a perfect example for an introduction, theme, five variations of the theme followed by a coda. These are all important parts of a piece for a child to recognize.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a remarkable composer that all children should study. The piece, ?Ah, Vous Dirai-je, Maman? is perfect for a child in that it resembles a well known nursery rhyme, ?Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?. This piece is also an example of variations of theme. This begins as a simple melody transforming into a complex variation containing a difference in meter throughout the variations with in an increase in tempo. The composition has a very light and cheerful familiar sound to it and could easily attract the attention of a child.
The use of sensory imagery in music, impressionism, is another form helpful to increase interest and make music enjoyable. Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky composed a piece, ?Promenade, from pictures of an exhibition? solely around an art exhibition. This is a dark and gloomy symphony that represents a marching soldier and paints a vivid picture of an army. Another composer using imagery was Aram Khachaturian, he composed a work called ?Sabre Dance?. This is an extremely energetic powerful piece that paints a definite picture of a chase and catch situation. This can be found in many cartoons today which allows a child to relate the classical music to a humorous situation. The piece is filled with energy and caused my seven year old brother to dance and run around the room. He enjoyed this piece the most and said it reminded him of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.. A modern classical composer, Steve Reich wrote ?Different Trains?, this is a classic example of sensory imagery. The composer uses many counts of ostinato, tempo, and meter changes to portray the sounds of different trains in different cities. The sampled sounds paint a colorful picture and make the piece very interesting and unique. The originality yet classical makeup attracts children and adults to imagine moving trains.
Dynamics, softness and loudness in music, is another important part of musical composition. Franz Joseph Haydn wrote ?The Surprise Symphony? that developed a variation in the dynamic level. ?This piece was written for a special after dinner concert. Haydyn knew that many people used this time for an afterdinner nap so he used calm string music to relax and secure his audience. He gave them just enough time to begin to doze and then CRASH! The whole orchestra would play a chord as loud as possible? (Bond 59). This humorous story and musical piece brings a sense of laughter and a delightful mood to the music. Children seem to respond the most to the light and humorous feel to music. This sets a good example of a soft dynamic level followed by a dramatically loud one. This gives a sense a possible dynamic variety in one work.
A rondo, musical form in which the first section is repeated several times with a different section between each of the repeats (Staton 179), is a significant form a child should be taught. ?The Viennese Musical Clock? by Zoltan Kodaly performs a rondo in a simple yet entertaining way. This piece is another example of imagery, the sounds of the clock melody produces a picture of little figurines dancing around an old fashioned clock. The mood is happy and joyful, very enjoyable for a child to learn.
Narrative is a form of music that tells a story. ?The Nutcracker is a narrative ballet about a little girl’s Christmas Eve in a time long ago, and the nutcracker that she receives as a present? (Staton 92). This story begins with an overture, an introduction played by the orchestra, by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This introduction sets the mood for the story. During the overture guests arrive for a wonderful party at Clara’s house (Staton 92). Clara receives a wonderful present from Herr drosselmeyer, a nutcracker in the shape of a soldier. The girl’s brother and friends are jealous of this present and grab it, accidentally breaking it. Clara goes to bed but unable to sleep because of her sadness. She goes downstairs to check on her precious broken nutcracker to find the soldier come to life and march into battle against an army of mice. This scene leads into ?March? also composed by Tchaikovsky. Clara throws her shoe at the mouse king ending the battle. The soldier turns into a beautiful prince and to thank Clara, he invites her to the Kingdom of Sweets. ?Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy? is the result of this. The prince and Clara sit upon a great throne to watch as dancers perform the ?Russian Dance?, dancing about in tall boots and hats. This is an energetic dance with an extremely fast tempo. The various dances to follow are of many other great lands; Arabia and China. The Arabian dance is much slower and flowing. The Chinese dance is delightful and uplifting. ?The Dance of the Reed Pipes? is a piece played predominantly on three flutes with light background accompaniment of an orchestra. This also contains a repeat of the first section but would not be considered a rondo. The instruments in the second section change from flutes to horns, giving it a powerful energetic feel. The first flowing flute section is repeated with a strong conclusion from the cymbals. The narration concludes with ?Waltz of the Flowers.? This is when the sugar plum fairies call for all the flowers to dance a dreamy final dance. This is a beautiful conclusion introduced by a harp and many horns leading into a waltz. Clara leaves the Kingdom of Sweets filled with happy dreams and thoughts. This narration is a wonderful work for children. This is filled with a variety of dramatic and cheerful pieces to delight a child. The thoughts of Christmas along with presents and a Kingdom of Sweets is enough to keep a child delighted.
Music in any form is important for all people to have in their lives. When a child is introduced to various forms of music at an early age it helps to broaden their minds and see the beauty outside of material things. It is important for a child to learn to have an open mind before the mishaps of life have a chance to close them.
Bond, Judy and Vincent Lawrence. Share the Music Third Edition. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1995.
Bond, Judy and Vincent Lawrence. Share the Music Second Edition. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988.
Staton, Barbara and Merill Staton. Music and You Fifth Grade. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1968.
Staton, Barbara and Merill Staton. Music and You Forth Grade. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1978.