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Music Amidst the Mayhem

Schools are closed and parents are suddenly faced with the challenge of keeping their children occupied at home. Not only that, but many of us are now trying to juggle working from home. Spending every day together cooped up at home can be a daunting task. Preschoolers and young children can get bored and restless when they can’t go outside or have play dates with their friends. And sitting in front of the TV all day is no fun, either.

Having activities in mind for young children is a good remedy and this is an opportunity to introduce them to the glorious sounds of the symphony orchestra. Research suggests that classical music can have numerous positive effects on children, including memory development, creativity and self-expression.

Several orchestral selections will appeal to kids. If your child likes drums and lively rhythms, play “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Johann Strauss. This music imitates the sound of thunder and lightning through repeated timpani rolls and cymbal crashes. Encourage kids to march around the room and pretend they are crashing the cymbals. If your kids like insects and bugs, play “The Wasps Overture” by Vaughan Williams or “The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Rimsky-Korsakov. Kids can buzz and fly around the room while listening.

If your child loves trains, play Hans Christian Lumbye’s “Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop.” This music recreates the sounds of a train chugging out of a station and blowing its whistle and then grinding to a halt at the next stop. Another fun piece is Leopold Mozart’s “The Toy Symphony.” It’s a cheerful, humourous piece with cuckoo clock sounds, bird sounds and whistles. For a complete surprise, play “The Surprise Symphony 2nd Movement” by Joseph Haydn. Turn up the volume for this piece as it has a startlingly loud chord that appears out of nowhere and your kids will jump with delight when they hear it.

Get kids moving to orchestral music. Play music with varied tempos as kids move and dance. Give them lightweight scarves to twirl and swirl as they dance around the room. “La Danza Tarantella” by Rossini and “Turkish Rondo” by Mozart are good pieces that offer a fast tempo. For a slower tempo, try the mesmerizing “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” by Claude Debussy.

In the morning while getting dressed or eating breakfast, play happy music such as Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.” While your kids are playing with Lego or puzzles, play Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Both these famous pieces feature beautiful string melodies from violins, violas, cellos and double basses. At bedtime, play soft, calming melodies such as J.S. Bach’s “Air on a G String” or Pachebel’s “Canon in D.” This soothing music will help prepare kids for sleep and rest.

Exploring orchestral music can expand your child’s imagination and inner sense of creativity. It’s also an enjoyable way to spend time with your kids during this chaotic time. Hopefully, the stress will dissipate when music fills your home.

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Jerri Carson
Jerri Carson is a retired music teacher. She now spends her time playing the piano and cello.

Aug/Sept 2020

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Victoria Academy of Ballet