Close your eyes and picture yourself in a few years, sitting with your grown child at a concert in a beautiful concert hall. The lights are shimmering and reflecting off the sequins of the ladies' evening gowns. There is a feeling of hushed excitement.
Together you and your child find your seats and settle in. The lights go down and the first strains of the world's most beautiful music are heard. Your child takes your hand, looks in your eyes and smiles. You know he is as excited as you are. Together you sit while the outside world disappears and it is just you and this world of beautiful music on a perfect night that you will both remember forever.
Classical music in all of its forms is one of the most precious gifts we have from days past.
Unfortunately, since many schools dropped their music programs, it was starting to look like classical music was soon to be phased out.
Happily, classical music has been making a comeback and more young people than ever before are learning to love it again.
Instilling a love for great music in your child is not difficult, but there is so much great music out there and so much to know about it that it can seem a daunting task to figure out how to introduce it to them. It doesn't have to be.
My name is Chris Ellis. I have been a musician and performer all my life, I have been teaching music and various instruments for the last ten years and my students have gone on to win awards, land roles in local symphonies and grab prime parts in community theater. (For my complete bio, click here.)
I have also written a book called "Music Symbols Made Simple, A Super Simple Parent's Guide to Ensuring that Your Child Succeeds in Music". And I do speaking engagements where I give my seminar "Music Symbols Made Simple", and other seminars to audiences.
Music is my passion. There is so much of it out there and while it is undeniably a blessing, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out the best way to introduce your child to this huge new world.
For this reason I have hand-picked a list of three of what I feel are the some of the most beautiful and influential pieces of music that, despite being written years or even centuries ago, are still so popular that you hear them everywhere. I also think that they are accessible to children who will recognize the inherent beauty of these pieces if they are played to them regularly.
So sit back and get your mouse clicking finger ready! You are in for a treat!
Prelude to Cello Suite #1 Johanne Sebastian Bach played by Yoyo Ma.
The Bach Cello Suites are some of the most loved and recognized of all pieces written for the cello.
Written by J.S. Bach in the Baroque period, (Likely between 1717 and 1723) these beautiful pieces lay in relative anonymity for decades until they were recorded by Catalan cellist (cellist from Catalonia), Pablo Casals in 1936, when he was 60 years old. He recorded them in London at Abbey Road Studios.
Pablo Casals originally stumbled upon a version of Bach's masterpieces in a thrift shop in Barcelona when he was 13 years old. He started studying them at that time but it was not until much later that he agreed to record them.
A couple of years ago, my cello coach, Pat Meyer, let me borrow a cherished copy of the original Bach manuscripts. It is notable that many of the marks that tell you how to play it are missing. It is as though Bach left it up to the musician to figure out how to make it our own.
These pieces are not only amazingly beautiful but also serious studies for cellists or any musician who chooses to adapt them to their instrument.
The Pachelbel Canon in D major, composed by Johann Pachelbel sometime in the 1600's, is an iconic work. A Canon is a piece that is put together so that it can be played by various instruments who play the same piece but come in at different times, like a round (Remember "Row, row, row your boat? It is the same concept.).
Pachelbel's piece, though simple is a work of genius because it is set up so that while the instruments are coming in at different times, they are all in perfect harmony.
The work is based on the D Major scale. The D Major Scale is a scale or series of notes that ascend and descend in a certain order. The Major scale is the basis for many songs, most especially, "Do, Re, Mi" from the "Sound of Music". Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do, IS the major scale!
I know I have lumped this piece in with other beautiful pieces but I honestly feel that this is the single most achingly beautiful piece of music ever written EVER, EVER, EVER! Click on the link and I am sure you will agree with me.
This version is performed by Daniel Barenboim and is exquisite. Adagio is a designation for a piece meant to be played relatively slowly. Cantabile means played as though it were being sung, so it would be smooth and lyrical as though a perfect singer were singing it.
The Sonata Pathetique was written in 1798 when Beethoven was 27 years old.
What many people don't know is that Beethoven and Mozart were alive at the same time and did actually meet. They were also familiar with each others' works. It is also believed that this piece is modeled after a similar piece by Mozart. Whether or not it was, it remains one of the most beautiful, if not THE most beautiful piece ever written for any instrument.
The history of the era of Mozart and Beethoven is so rich and so interesting that it is a worthwhile study. There is much more information on these two amazing composers and their contemporaries in a series of music courses by Dr. Robert Greenberg available through the Great Courses Series.
Dr. Greenberg is super knowledgeable about great music and the history surrounding it. His courses are fascinating because you not only get a tour of the greatest music ever written, but you get the historical context surrounding it. If you want to learn more about classical music, I recommend his courses. I have done several and I look forward to each new one with happy anticipation.
Please take the time to listen to these pieces and share them with your child and everyone you feel needs a lift. They are timeless. Do not be alarmed if at first you do not recognize the beauty of the pieces. Sometimes it takes a few listens to really get it. Enjoy!
Please stop by my website and leave me a note or ask me a question. I love hearing from you.