This blog by children's book author Melissa Wiley originally appeared at ClubMom.com. All posts and comments have been moved here, to this archive. Comments are still open, so feel free to chime in. For new posts, please visit www.melissawiley.com.
I showed the post to Scott and asked if he thought we should tag along, so to speak.
"Oh, absolutely!" he replied without missing a beat. (A beat, get it? I'm so very musical.) Scott's the classical (and other kinds of) music buff of the family, and I usually look to him for suggestions on what pieces of music to play (over and over and over—that's the sum total of our "music appreciation" method) for the children.
(No, wait, I guess there's more to it than just listening to the music—we also listen hungrily to the interesting stories Scott tells about the composers and performers. All those evenings when I'm nose-deep in educational philosophy? He's reading musicians' biographies.)
"I'm kind of psyched to see some of those Gould performances myself," he added, still scanning Mama Squirrel's list.
He says Gould is interesting to listen to, because he often hummed along—not in tune!—as he played. I'm intrigued. And also eager to hear all that Bach. I love Bach. Listening to Bach is like what St. Francis said about singing: It's praying—twice.
(Scott just looked over my shoulder and told me—wait, say it again, honey, I'm taking dictation—that when Gould played Bach he didn't use the sustain pedal, so it sounded very dry and crisp, like the harpsichord. And also! Rumor has it that his mother introduced him to the composers in chronological order, so he became intimately acquainted first with the Baroque, and then the Classical, and then the Romantic, and then the Modern composers, as opposed to the scattershot method most of us in this century are used to where we probably heard Mozart before Bach, or Tchaikovsky before—oh shoot, that's as far as I can remember, and Scott just left for Mass. Ah well. You get his drift. See what I mean? Fascinating!)
So there's that plan. Gould and Bach. :::rubs hands together briskly::: Gosh, thanks, Mama Squirrel!
(Another terrific resource for classical music studies is Helen over at Castle of the Immaculate. We rode the wave of her Elgar study last year. Oh! I still get goosebumps at the thought of that cello concerto played by Jacqueline du Pre!)
This morning, after drilling Rose on musical notes for quite a while (her piano teacher asked her to bone up a bit), I went hunting for some games online that would help with note recognition. Here's what I have found so far:
Pedaplus.com—Has a simple but good note recognition game. Choose treble or bass clef, and beginner or advanced. You try to read and click on the names of as many notes as possible in the time frame. Rose played for about twenty minutes and drastically improved her score.
There is also an ear-training game in which a short series of notes is played and you click on the piano keys for the appropriate intervals. Pretty cool.
The site also has other musical games and quizzes. HappyNote.com has several games to download, but (alas) none for my Mac—yet.
Music Notes has lots of quizzes on music history, as well as an ear-training game.
In the Novel Games "Musical Notes" game, notes on the treble clef scroll across the screen, and you must click the correct piano key to make them disappear. A variation on the old shoot-the-ducks arcade game. Doesn't seem to cover more than the basic treble clef notes, though (or maybe I just didn't play it long enough).
With Musical Appreciation the case is different; and we cannot do better than quote from an address made by Mrs. Howard Glover at the Ambleside Conference of the Parents' Union, 1922:––
"Musical Appreciation––which is so much before the eye at the present moment––originated in the P.N.E.U. about twenty-five years ago. At that time I was playing to my little child much of the best music in which I was interested, and Miss Mason happened to hear of what I was doing. She realised that music might give great joy and interest to the life of all, and she felt that just as children in the P.U.S. were given the greatest literature and art, so they should have the greatest music as well. She asked me to write an article In the Review on the result of my observations, and to make a programme of music each term which might be played to the children. From that day to this, at the beginning of every term a programme has appeared; thus began a movement which was to spread far and wide.
"Musical Appreciation, of course, has nothing to do with playing the piano. It used to be thought that 'learning music' must mean this, and it was supposed that children who had no talent for playing were unmusical and would not like concerts. But Musical Appreciation had no more to do with playing an instrument than acting had to do with an appreciation of Shakespeare, or painting with enjoyment of pictures. I think that all children should take Musical Appreciation and not only the musical ones, for it has been proved that only three per cent of children are what is called 'tone-deaf'; and if they are taken at an early age it is astonishing how children who appear to be without ear, develop it and are able to enjoy listening to music with understanding." (Vol 6 pg 218)
Melissa Wiley on music appreciation (LOL): Easiest thing in the world. Pick a piece of music and play it often. Tell your kids what it's called, and drop in some interesting biographical information over dinner or while doing dishes. Pick out some good rousing housecleaning music (Beethoven and Tschaikovsky work for me; so does Aretha Franklin) and some lively breakfast music. Mellow and soothing is perhaps better for dinnertime. But really, just loving the music yourself and playing it often, naming it, discussing the composer and the instruments: it's easy and pleasant to encourage a taste for fine music. In our house, that ranges from Celtic tunes to the Beatles, Shostakovich (Daddy's favorite) to Springsteen.
The posts on these pages originally appeared at The Lilting House, my ClubMom blog about home education, fun learning resources, and special needs children.
When I decided it was time to wrap up my work at ClubMom, I moved all the Lilting House posts and comments to this archive. Comments are still open, so feel free to chime in on any post that interests you. I love to hear what my readers have to say!
These days I am doing all my new posting (including on many Lilting House topics) at my primary blog, Here in the Bonny Glen. There you will find posts about my books, other people's books, my family, home education, and many other topics.