# Bach # Chopin

Classical Music for Your Children: It's IMPORTANT

With much of today's popular music being so dumbed-down and full of vapid lyrics at best, and violent and sexually explicit lyrics at worst, exposing your children to classical music is now more important than ever. In today's video, I make a case for why you should play classical music in your home and while you're driving. Of course, it's not the only type of music you should play, but if you introduce it to them while they are young, they will cultivate an appreciation for it now and be able to discern between enriching music and music that leaves a lot to be desired.

Here are some tips outlined in today's video:
- Play classical music in the car and play it in the home.

- Play it whether you feel like listening to it or not. If you only played it when you felt like listening to it, you might not play it very much.

- Regular listening will help them develop a love for it. The only reason why I like classical music is because I heard it in my home growing up and it gives me positive connotations.

- Much of popular music today is dumbed-down with repetitive, simplistic beats. Plus the lyrics are down right wrong in many popular songs. Do we want our children to sing those songs and have those lyrics in their head? While this might not be a popular opinion of mine, it has a lot of merit. Check out the lyrics of the songs on the top 40 lists across the country and truly examine whether you want your children to be saying the words in those songs.

- Not only listen to classical music, but learn about the composer's lives. Many of the great composers like Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and Bach were true geniuses who cultivated their musical skills early in life.

Did you know that Mozart was writing his own compositions by the age of 6?! He wrote his first opera, Mitridate Re di Ponto, in 1770 when he was only 14 years old.

Chopin was composing and writing poetry at six, and gave his first public concerto performance at the age of eight. To make money in his early career, Chopin taught piano lessons. He was a big fan of Bach, so he made his students play Bach's compositions.

Did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children? (How did he have time to compose? No seriously?)

Your homework is to listen to Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor "Moonlight" Op. 27 No. 2 : III presto agitato. Click the link and listen to it on YouTube for free. I also list an album below which includes the song.

Now please note, before my critics get up in arms, I am not saying that all modern music is bad. Certainly not! I am saying that it is important to hold on to the appreciation of classical music, which has so many beneficial qualities. Playing classical music will instantly relax you. Your children will work and play longer if they are listening to classical music in the background. It stimulates your thinking and can boost your creativity. I have written most of my books while listening to classical music. It is a great motivator!

I am a big fan of Classical KUSC, which is a free public radio station that you can listen to on the radio at 91.5, or online any time of day. They are a listener- supported station, so there are no advertisements. I believe what they do is important, so I am a sustaining member at Classical KUSC.

Of course, you can listen to classical music many other ways, including over iTunes, Pandora, or dig out some old CDs that you likely have in your music collection. Whatever you do, commit to listening to more of it today. It will enrich your life for the better. I promise!

Here are some great albums to get you introduced to classical music:

Beethoven Best-Loved Piano Sonatas This is one of my favorite albums with the famous Moonlight Sonata included. The song I mention in the video, Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor "Moonlight" Op. 27 No. 2 : III presto agitato is also number 3 on this album.

Laser Light Classics Ave Maria This is such a beautiful album and every song is truly magnificent.

Joshua Bell Romance of the Violin This album is full of romantic violin classics, beautifully played by Joshua Bell.

The Essential Yo-Yo Ma Yo-Yo Ma is the world's most famous cellist and in this classic album, he plays a variety of composers, the perfect introduction to classical music.

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Comment of the Week
Regarding last week's post Let's Talk About Adulting, Life on Huckleberry Hill writes:
Adult privileges and adult responsibilities used to come hand in hand. Having worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for many years, it has been my observation that this is often no longer the case. Privileges that used to be reserved for adulthood are being given at earlier and earlier ages, while responsibility in general seems to be increasingly delayed. I have also noticed a shift in the way adults speak to children about growing up. There seem to be a lot of comments about how children should enjoy their freedom while they can, etc. Rather than looking forward to becoming a grown-up, as children typically used to, they now seem to dread it and delay the inevitable acceptance of responsibility as long as possible.

I thought your comment was very astute! I will be addressing the adulting critics in Thursday's video. I hope to see you all there!

Today I would love to know... what do you think of today's popular music? How do you feel about your children singing lyrics from popular songs? What is your favorite genre of music? Who is your favorite composer? Do you play classical music? How and when? Let me know and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on the blog!

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Bridget said...

I love this,I have young children and we now have the classical station on in the car regularly. My 3 year old has started asking who the composer is and it makes me look it up which I love. Also, if you are looking for some great non classical music that is family appropriate check out the band Parsonsfield. They are terrific for all ages.

inspirsession said...

Thanks very much for the highlight, Jennifer! And for the ongoing inspiration! -r.brow

Robyn said...

As a teacher I always play classical music in the classroom. When I forget the students ask me to play the "pretty" music. I have several classical stations on Pandora but the one I play the most for students is Bach. I've heard his compositions are mathematical. Baroque is my favorite genre of classical music, along with anything that includes the cello.

Emma Woodhouse said...

I have been listening to KUSC online at work using my headphones as an alternative to the top 40 station that is playing in my office. Thank you! It makes my days so much better and I am learning a lot about classical composers. Last week's "Album of the Week" was one featuring the composer Helen Hopekirk. Beautiful music!

Katrin said...

After reading Queen Lucia, I had wondered why Queen Lucia never finished the Moonlight Sonata. Now I know why. It's a brillian piece of music.

Ashley Diaz said...

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you so much for this post! I love that you're such an advocate for the arts as well as teaching young children to love and appreciate classical music :) We're always listening to classical music in our home, and at the young ages of 6 and 3, my children are already developing favorites in this genre. Some great resources for children on these topics include the show "Little Einsteins" in which the characters explore classical music and art. Another great audio series that we've started listening to is "Beethoven Lives Upstairs." It's a fascinating story told from the perspective of the child who lives in the boarding house in which Beethoven lived. While I'm not sure how much of it is entirely accurate, I know a lot of it is true. Additionally, it helps my children to think of these great composers as more than another picture in a history book and creates questions that lead to great conversations.

I'm actually starting a series on my blog in hopes to help more people develop a love and appreciation of classical music. Each installment of the series will feature a beautiful piece of classical music that will hopefully lead the listener to want to discover more great classical music! I'm excited to share it with you once they are posted! My blog is www.inpursuitofthefinerthings.blogspot.com if you care to listen :)

Ladylike said...

Hello Jennifer,

I don't enjoy today's popular music, and I agree that classical music is preferable. We have KDFC public radio here in Northern California. I listen to it in the car while driving my daughter to and from school. KDFC is also available through live streaming; so it is available no matter where you may live. My favorite instrument is the harpsichord; so I adore Baroque composers such as Bach.
I recently ordered your suggestion of "Bach for Breakfast", and I'm waiting to receive it. I also ordered an album recommended for children by a host at KDFC. The CD features Dudley Moore narrating "Peter and the Wolf". I'll let you know how I like it as soon as it arrives. An album that my daughter and I have been loving in the car is a CD made by a group of four women mariachis. My husband is a musician, and he has confirmed their amazing talents. No wonder I can listen to this CD over and over again, which is unusual for me. The CD is called "Las Caras Lindas", and the group is called "Flor de Toloache". The CD is available on Amazon. I recommend it because it's so different, and it will make you want to dance or at least shimmy in the car!

Warm best,

Ladylike said...

PS. I feel very lucky that my daughter's teacher (a Frenchman) shares a love of good music. He took my daughter's 4th grade class to see and hear "La Traviata" at the San Francisco Opera House last week!

Since you mentioned lyrics in your video, I will warn you that the word "gun" appears in the first song on "Las Caras Lindas". It is in reference to being a hunter, but if you try the CD, and you don't like that word, you might want to skip that song. I imagine that "Peter and the Wolf" may include a reference to a gun as well.

Warm best,

Unknown said...

I really love Haydn. I don't know why, but most of his music is upbeat and happy. I started listening to KUSC after you recommended it. My kids are now drawing and listening to it, with dare I say it, minimal to NO fighting.

A few years ago, because of the music lyric problem you mentioned in your video, I tried to compile a playlist of happy, G-rated songs for my kids and found that most of them were from the 60s or older. Which is just depressing, but understandable. So, classical or traditional music from specific countries also works. After realizing how depressing and negative most of the music was on the mainstream radio, I almost never listen to it, except some country. As a result, I just feel better.

Thank you for the continued inspiration. Happy Travels!

Woman of the House said...

I am a music teacher and have spent the last twenty-two years introducing students of all ages to classical music. It has been so rewarding to see students who came into class thinking classical music is boring learn to truly love it. It doesn't happen with every student, but I've had many students tell me years after taking my classes that they still go to concerts and listen to classical music. It's wonderful to see their excitement and understanding growing as the school years progresses. Thank you, Jennifer, for promoting classical music on your blog and in your books. I agree that pop music has its place, but the classical tradition contains the greatest musical masterpieces of Western civilization and its a real shame that fewer and fewer people are introduced to them.

A few composers who are well liked by general audiences include Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert, Franz Josef Haydn, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (of Nutcracker fame :) ). Students also respond well to Aaron Copland and Ralph Vaughan Williams, but I have to be careful with them because some of their music is more accessible and some is pretty far out there. Try Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man, Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring by Copland and Fantasia on Greensleeves and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. For young children I recommend Peter and the Wolf and Tubby the Tuba. For older children, try The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

Since I'm a music educator, I hope you don't mind me pointing out that in classical music, the term "song" fits a particular technical definition and it's not correct to call most classical works songs. Generally, a song is three to five minutes long, has sung text for usually one singer and accompaniment (usually a piano), and is not part of an opera, cantata, or oratorio. It may stand alone or be part of a cycle of songs. For instance, Franz Schubert's "The Erl-King" is a good example of a song. Symphonies should be called symphonies, sonatas should be called sonatas, etc. If you are unsure what to call something, it's always safe to use "piece," "work," or "composition." Since you love classical music and value doing things right, I thought I'd mention it. As I tell my students, using "song" indiscriminately tags one as an amateur. I even count off for it on assignments. Please pardon me if I'm being too forward, but I thought you'd like to be properly informed, Jennifer. :) Thank you for your blog and your inspiration! Your cheery posts are always a highlight!

Louise said...

I love classical music as well, and my favorite composer is Bach, although I love most of the others. I played violin in high school and stopped playing for several years. At the beginning of this year, I started practicing again, and have recently joined my town's community orchestra. Such a challenge, but so rewarding!
Any child who shows an interest should have a chance to learn an instrument, but I know that doesn't happen enough, due to various reasons. The local high school here doesn't even have an orchestra, although marching band is highly supported.

Thank you for your thoughtful posts.

Unknown said...

Lovely post. And I agree totally. We play a lot of classical music in our house and we have an 8 year old who has been listening to it since a baby. I always have lit candles on the table for supper and play classical music in the background - always. It sounds a little pretentious when you write it down but it creates such a lovely atmosphere for a meal and the three of us sit around the table and talk and laugh. We also play a lot of music when he is just playing with his toys, instead of having the tv on in the background. I also work to it as I have my office at home and run my business from here - classical music in the background is very good to work to. Mind you, last weekend he was being serenaded to Charles Aznavour! Always wonderful as well. My partner is French so there is a lot of French influence in our home.

Amanda said...

Hi, Jennifer!

Thank you for all the wonderful content lately. I loved your video on "adulting" and this video on classical music is also excellent and so inspiring.

Will you be talking more in depth about your homeschooling journey in future videos? I would love insight into how you structure your days, curriculum, etc. My children are currently attending school but we have considered homeschooling and may go that direction at some point in the future. I've done a lot of research on the classical model of education (The Well-Trained Mind was very detailed and helpful.) I would love to learn from your experience and hear what is working for you and your family!

All the best,


Unknown said...

We love classical music in our house. We have a subscription to our local classical orchestra and go regularly including the kids. My daughter plays the violin and my son has played trumpet, guitar, drums, piano. BUT we are also going to a world music festival this summer. I think all music has value and classical music was new and radical in its time. The poet laureatte, Seamus Heaney, said eminem was one of the greatest poets of the 21st C. Some new music is pap but, truthfully, so is some classical. I think we should embrace all music and not make good/bad distinctions between them. The best gift you can give your children is to encourage then to listen to all music. Don't get too hung up about the slang or swear words.

Vicki Zimmerman said...

I love classical music and listen to it in the morning on KUSC upon awaking and you're right, the people are so knowledgeable who introduce the songs. Later, I turn on our Spectrum Cable channel at home and SiriuxXM Symphony in the car. I love Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Elgar, Glazunov, Respighi, to name a few. I'll be seeing Ludovico Einaudi at Segerstrom Center next month and do take a moment to listen to his "Indaco" which is so beautiful and reminds me of one you played a long time ago by Cyril Baranov, "Heavy Rain." Thanks for listing some o your favorite selections; they were lovely and I ordered two on iTunes. P.S. My cats love it, too, and seem very relaxed when I play it.

Ladylike said...

I think the age of the child is a very important consideration. I have a 17 year old son. Clearly, he listens to a wider range of music than what I would allow for a younger child. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori Method of Education, wrote about the Absorbent Mind of the small child. Little kids have brains like sponges, which is what allows them to learn so much, such as an entire language, so quickly. The last thing we want is for our preschoolers to parrot swear words at school.
I encouraged my son to listen to Classic Rock rather than today's pop music, and I'm happy that he has responded well to that suggestion. He has even made the history of classic rock a subject of his research papers in his international baccalaureate classes in high school.
Warm best,

Heather said...

I am currently playing classical music on a record player while my kids eat their Happy Meals. Because of this post.

Gumbo Lily said...

Wonderful post! I did not grow up listening to classical music except on the Bugs Bunny Loony Toons! When we began to homeschool our children, I decided it would be good for all of us to give classical music a try. And it was a hit. I remember the children asking for Brahms at Bedtime if I forgot to put it on after tucking them in. They enjoyed falling asleep to it and I enjoyed the calming, peaceful feelings it gave the home at the end of a full day.

I really love Schumann's Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood). I also like Schubert. YoYo Ma is a favorite current artist. In all truth though, I love all kinds of music. Good music is good!

Thanks for the reminders to keep on playing classical. I'm enjoying some Schubert right now as I type and wind down for the evening.


Lisa said...

I never listened to classical music until I was an adult. But for years now, my homeschooled children and I have been listening to our local classical station during meal times and other parts of the day.

There is a very well done classical music series for children called Maestro Classics. https://www.maestroclassics.com/ (They frequently have the set on sale.) We found the majority of them fascinating. We also really enjoy the biographies and accompanying cds for the Great Musicians Series by Zeezok books. http://www.zeezok.com/Great-Musicians-Series_c_7.html (I add to our collection during special sales.)

By the way - studies have shown that classical music is so powerful that even chickens are calmer and lay better when listening to classical music! When I was younger I remember hearing that classical music makes plants grow better too.

Gumbo Lily said...

I wanted to mention that George Winston has become one of my favorite pianists. I think I have all of his CDs. I'm not sure you'd call him "classical" but he's just so good. ~Jody

Maureen said...

Hi Jennifer,

Yes! I too have always loved classical music, and I'm certain it's because my dad played his classical CDs every morning when I was a kid. Now as an adult, I have my local public classical station, All Classical Portland, on almost constantly. Luckily, my husband enjoys classical music as well, and I'm hoping that my one year old son will appreciate it as well one day since he is exposed to it so much. It's hard to pick one favorite composer, but I love Schubert.

A modern day composer whom I adore is actually a Canadian known as Chilly Gonzalez. He is interesting because most of his music is electronic, however, he has two classical piano albums, which are WONDERFUL. My husband and I play them every Saturday and Sunday morning when we are drinking coffee and eating breakfast. We've done this for going on five years now, and we never tire of it. We joke that it's not the weekend until we hear Chilly. You'll recognize one of his songs. Gogol, from the opening of Paris J'taime. :)


Little Miss Know-it-all said...

When our children were young we had a cassette that was often called for on car journeys - it was a life of Mozart for children and they learnt to enjoy his music through it and recognise it going forward. It was beautifully made. Other classical music tended to be more part of their school lives and the two elder girls chose music/voice as a subject option in their teens, learning to love other classical pieces while the youngest attended a very music-orientated senior school. Also by being able to let them have lessons on an instrument helped with this appreciation (piano, Celtic harp, flute) even when they continued on to keyboard, electric guitar and drums! Now as adults I think they enjoy a wide range of music gleaned from a childhood of variety.

Unknown said...

When you reach the UK, listen to BBC Radio 3 and Classic fm. They’re both devoted to classical music. I grew up on them both (my parents were musicians).