Thursday, October 14, 2010

Introducing a child to classical music: How to make friends with a symphony orchestra

With stringent budget cuts occurring in national as well as local economies, it is no wonder schools are suffering during this recession. Art and music curricula are being cut left and right. They generally are the first programs to be eliminated.

Whether you ascribe to research done on the importance of right brain development in the visual arts, or the “Mozart Effect,” which has been associated with music, it is imperative that children be provided a solid education in both artistic disciplines.

Music and art classes are essential in developing an understanding and an appreciation of not only who we are, but where we have come from as humans.

Education in both domains determines the entertainment choices that are carried throughout one's life.

Specifically regarding music, what can a parent do when music appreciation (the very core of musical education) isn't offered in a school setting?

Get free on-line help from the world famous San Francisco Symphony and their entertaining as well as educational web site - SFS Kids Fun With Music.

If you need to upgrade your media player in order to participate on the SFS site, not to worry, you will automatically be prompted and provided a free download that takes a moment to install.

Once you're good-to-go, you’ll find the site is colorful, well organized, and affords the opportunity for parents and children to explore the various instruments that make up an orchestra and hear actual instrument sound samples.

There is also a virtual music lab to learn everything about basic musical symbols and notation, along with such concepts as: tempo; rhythm; pitch; harmony; symbols, and instrumentation.

Once the ‘basics’ are in place, move up to the next level and play a tune or two on SFS’s "Performalator," or actually create your own musical masterpiece in "Composerizer."

In a separate section on the site is a click-on radio with six different music channels, which introduces some of the world's most famous concert pieces along with short stories about each of the compositions.

Depending on reading and technology skills, older children will easily surf this site without parental assistance.

As a child's musical interest and abilities strengthen, there's a "First Timer's Guide" with some helpful facts, which provide a good discussion platform before venturing out to an actual performance.

Many communities around the country have "Pops" concerts during the summer that are family-friendly and often free of charge; this would be another good step to introducing a young person to the appreciation and joy of classical music.

Major orchestras such as: Boston Symphony; New York Philharmonic; Baltimore Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony also offer children's concerts, which are geared towards specific age levels and are shorter in duration, plus they carry the added benefit of a lower ticket price.

After all, since the YouTube Symphony Orchestra made its debut at Carnegie Hall on April 15, 2009 the world of classical music has not been the same - it's taken a giant step in becoming very popular with younger generations.

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