10 Ways to Listen to Classical Music with Your Child

by Jonathan Shipley

I’m a parent. I know the world of children’s music. It can get–how shall I say it?–tiresome. You can only listen to “Baby Beluga” or “Oh! Susanna!” so many times before insanity sets in.
But here’s some good news for parents who love classical music: expanding your child’s musical horizons is easier than you think! Read on for a few easy-to-implement routines that’ll introduce your kids to classical music. In no time, your youngsters will know that Beethoven is so much more than a dog in a movie. 

1. Start listening to classical music in your home and in your car.

What better way to acclimate young ears to the glorious strains of classical music than by tuning in to KING FM? Lay the foundation gently: put classical music on in the background as you make dinner. Play it in the car as you’re driving to soccer practice. It’ll simply become a part of their lives, a daily soundtrack. If you’re interested in classical music, they’re apt to appreciate it, too.

2. Make it a bedtime lullaby.

Tired of standard fare when putting your children to bed? Have them fall asleep, instead, to classical music. Good tunes to make that happen? Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major. Turn on the night light and put on a sleepy time playlist. They’ll be snoozing in no time.

3. Go to the ballet.

Before sitting them down at a symphony concert (“They’re just sitting up there in their tuxedos!”), perhaps try a ballet first. Classical music…but with dancing! Good ideas would be Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker as well as Arthur Saint-Leon’s Coppélia, all of which have plotlines that children can easily follow.

4. Go to the symphony.

For a refined night, head to the symphony. Many offer concerts for families during the day to avoid those pesky bedtimes. The Seattle Symphony offers a wide array of opportunities for kids of all ages to see a concert, including the KING FM-sponsored Family Concert series. They’re also more interactive and play music accessible to young ears.

5. Play it on rainy days.
It’s raining outside. The playground is a swamp. The park is a monsoon. You’ve read the same book aloud to your kids 18 times. What to do? Listen to classical music, close your eyes, and come up with stories based on what you hear. When your children hear Beethoven’s 9th, what images, scenes and actions come to their minds? Extrapolate! When they hear Stravinksy’s The Rite of Spring, what does it conjure in them? What happened on the Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgksy’s masterwork?

6. Watch Fantasia.

Disney came up with stories of its own for classical music and, with that, Fantasia was born. Now regarded as one of the greatest animated films ever made, it includes work by Bach (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor), Ponchielli (Dance of the Hours) and that famous Mickey Mouse bit using Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

7. Find accessible music they’ll enjoy.

Don’t start with Charles Ives for a 3-year-old. Don’t start with John Adams or Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood. They need to grow into those things. Start with tunes they might like, like Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, and Georges Bizet’s Carmen Suite #1: Les Toreadors.

8. Make the music accessible in the house.

Make your home a home for classical music. Put all your classical music CDs and records by the stereo. Make sure everyone’s mobile devices have Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, or whatever else gains you access to the music. Download apps for kids. There are some, including My First Classical Music, Little Mozart, Beanie’s Musical Instruments, and Meet Beethoven.

9. Have them play along.

Your kid wants to bang pots and pans to Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man? Tell them to knock themselves out! They want to dance to Johann Strauss’s polkas? Okay! Do they want to play-act after hearing Mendelssohn’s Wedding March? Make it so. When kids are allowed to play along to the music, they’ll begin to see that music as an ice cream-like treat rather than a broccoli-like prescription.

10. Insist on musical education in schools.

The benefits are numerous (language development, increased IQ, spatial-temporal skills, and improved test scores). And on top of all that, music education means your kids can listen to some Brahms symphonies before recess. Awesome.