Lovers of classical music often lament the apparent decline of classical music appreciation in today’s generation. With concert attendance plummeting, classical radio stations shifting to different formats, and orchestras struggling due to budget cuts and lack of support, one can’t help but fear what the future holds for the good, old Verdi, Bach, Chopin, Liszt, or Beethoven.
Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. Reviving the appreciation for classical music and promoting the love for it is possible – and you can start it at home with your children.
Why Introduce Children to Classical Music
The good thing about exposing children to classical music at an early age is that they have yet to develop biases that other people have towards it. What usually prevents the audience from appreciating the beauty of classical music is the perception that it is boring and only the intellectual elite can enjoy it. Although this judgment is not without basis, considering the complexities of classical music and the opera’s intimidating reputation, there are experiences that people miss out on because of these negative notions.
Not only does exposure to classical music allow children to grasp the rich, cultural legacy of the past, it also has a number of positive effects to their well-being and learning development. Below are some of the benefits of enjoying classical music:
- Improves spatial abilities – various studies have concluded that those who enjoy classical music at an early age are able to perform spatial tasks, such as putting together a puzzle, more successfully. This has led to what researchers call the “Mozart effect.”
- Enhances concentration – classical music is known to boost the focus and concentration of kids in school. Although there are also other types and genres of music that offer this benefit, classical music does better in enhancing kids’ level of concentration.
- Aids in memory retention – scientists have also found a link between classical music appreciation and memory retention. Using Mozart’s classic pieces, researchers have discovered that young children responded well to these rhythms, resulting in improved information processing and memory.
- Relieves stress and anxiety – depending on the rhythm and tempo, classical music is effective in relieving stress and anxiety, especially for kids throwing tantrums. There is also no doubt that playing classical music can make babies enjoy better sleep and become more relaxed.
Programs Supporting Classical Music Appreciation
It’s been said that classical music is the aural equivalent of telling kids to “eat their vegetables.” And why wouldn’t it be, when some parents who expose their children to such timeless treasures often insist that they share the same, intense passion for it? This is why the means of introducing classical music to children matters. Thankfully, various institutions have developed programs that provide a non-traditional and fun avenue for learning about classical music. The following are notable programs that encourage classical music appreciation among the youth:
- El Sistema – established by musician and economist Jose Antonio Abreu in 1975, El Sistema is a Venezuelan music program that aims to uplift young people from impoverished circumstances through classical music instruction. El Sistema’s programs include ensemble participation, retreats, workshops, and live performances, with a focus on building a sense of community, self-worth and commitment. To date, over 350,000 children in more than 200 teaching locations have been involved in the El Sistema project.
- Tenix Discovery – Australian infrastructure giant Tenix has partnered with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to bring Tenix Discovery, a lecture-concerts program that aims to guide children and newcomers to discover the most significant musical features behind the most notable classical music pieces. The lively lecture-concerts program is presented by Richard Gill and performed by the Sydney Symphony Sinfonia. The 2013 Tenix Discovery series brings together the music of Beethoven, Haydn, Chopin and Britten.
- Piano Carnival – renowned concert pianist Elizabeth Schumann, together with her sister Sonya, devised Piano Carnival to address the lack of art and classical music education for young audiences. Piano Carnival is an audio CD project based on Saint Saen’s Carnival of the Animals, containing 14 musical pieces and stories produced and directed by the Schumann sisters. A Piano Carnival E-book is also on the works to appeal to a young, tech-savvy audience. The Piano Carnival book and CD is distributed to educators for free.
Music, like any form of art, affects and appeals to people differently. Thus, while parents and educators seek to foster the love of classical music to children, it should be done so in a fun and engaging manner. Children realise the value of classical music better when they see it as something to be enjoyed.
Debra Wright blogs about a plethora of topics including classical music appreciation. Wright considers Tenix as one of the most notable companies offering corporate sponsorship for classical music education.
Classic Music Recommendations: