The History Of Classical Music

When kids go to music class in school, they often do not understand why it is important for them to study the history of classical music. The truth is that, although it may sound vastly different, classical music is the basis on which all other popular music has been built. Without it, we would not have all of the many genres that we enjoy listening to today.

The roots of classical music can actually be found in early Christian music, which takes many of its influences from ancient Greek music. The Greeks created instruments such as the aulos and the lyre, which led to many of the instruments found in contemporary orchestras. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of music from the early period of classical music still available.

The Renaissance period, which took place between 1400 and 1600, was marked by more instrumentation than the past. In fact, the music of this period is the first time that bass instruments were introduced into the compositions. This is also the time in which musical notation was developed, allowing generations to come the opportunity to enjoy the compositions that were written at the time.

The period of music beginning in 1905 and leading up to the present is known as modernism. This period is generally known for rejecting all of the conventions set up during the previous musical periods. During this time, artists developed new music theory and techniques for various instruments. Many of these developments have made their way out of classical music and into the mainstream tunes that people listen to every day.

Classical music may not be as appealing to the modern day ear as other genres, but it is important for everyone to know its history. Classical music set up all of the conventions and tools that were necessary to create music as we know it today. If someone listens carefully, they will be able to hear its influences in all of their favorite songs.

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Six Pieces of Classical Music Kids Will Enjoy

Listening to Classical Music with a child can be an enjoyable experience, but what should you listen to that will keep their interest and help boost their imagination? Here are six suggestions for Classical Music you can listen to with kids.

1. Peter and the Wolf - written and composed by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

One of the most beloved works for children the first recording of this piece was done in 1939 and there have been numerous CDs, DVDs and adaptations since then including a Disney adaptation in 1946 that Prokofiev himself helped to inspire. Prokofiev wrote the music and text for this piece and instruments in the orchestra help to tell the story.

Help your child to identify each instrument and to identify the musical theme (melody) that represents the different animals. Here are some hints as to what instrument(s) represents which animal:

Bird - Flute

Oboe - Duck

Cat - Clarinet

Grandfather - Bassoon

Wolf - French Horns

Hunters - woodwinds

Peter - Strings

2. Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens

There are fourteen movements in this piece each depicting a different animal. Talk to your child about how Saint-Saens represents each animal and see if you can figure out which animal is represented in each movement without looking at the recording notes.

1) Introduction and Royal March of the Lion

2) Hens and Roosters

3) Wild Donkeys, quick animals

4) Tortoises

5) Elephants

6) Kangaroos

7) Aquarium

8) Characters with Long Ears

9) The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods

10) Aviary

11) Pianists

12) Fossils

13) The Swan

14) Finale

3. The Planets by Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Each of the seven movements represents a Planet in our Solar System and the corresponding astrological characteristics. Earth is not represented as it is not recognized in astrology practice. Another interesting note is that The Planets was written between 1914 and 1916 and Pluto was not discovered until 1930 so it is not represented in this musical work. Lucky for Holst as Pluto has also since been reclassified as a dwarf planet.

Mars, the Bringer of War

Venus, the Bringer of Peace

Mercury, the Winged Messenger

Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

Uranus, the Magician

Neptune, the Mystic

Have your child do research on the planets and then discuss how Holst represented their characteristics in the music.

4. Flight of the Bumble-Bee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)

You can figure out from the title what this piece was written about. I have heard this played on just about every instrument from flute to tuba. The piece is actually from an opera called The Tale of Tsar Sultan, but the piece is more popular on its own and segments of this piece have been used by everyone from Michael Jackson to Walt Disney.

5. William Tell Overture by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)

This Overture is the musical introduction to the opera of the same name. The overture musically tells about life in the Swiss Alps which is the setting for the opera. This piece should sound familiar as it has been used numerous times in popular culture. It has been featured in Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse cartoons and advertisers have used it to promote Reebok shoes, Honda Civics and Dove Soap just to name a few. The most famous use of it is probably for the theme song for the show The Lone Ranger.

6. Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 1770-1827)

This is actually the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor but has become known as the Moonlight Sonata. It is probably Beethoven's most popular piano works. The piece was not called the Moonlight Sonata until after Beethoven had died. A German music critic, Ludwig Rellstab, said the first movement was like the moonlight shinning upon Lake Lucerene (a famous lake in Switzerland). Many music critics disagree with this interpretation of the piece and feel it is more like a funeral march, but that is the beauty of music, you can chose to imagine what ever you want when listening to a piece. Ask your kids what they visualize when they close their eyes and listen to this piece.

There are no right or wrong answers when it come to a person's own interpretation of classical music. Since kids have such vivid imaginations it is fun to listen and discuss classical music with them.

C A Fox is a musician, entrepreneur and parent. Visit for more resources.

Nuances of Hindustani Classical Music

Book: Nuances of Hindustani Classical Music
Author: Dr. Hema Hirlekar
ISBN: 9788178062068
Page: 200
Price: INR 395
Publisher: Unicorn Books

For those who listen to Hindustani classical music or those who are looking to improve their knowledge for better appreciation of the music, 'Nuances of Hindustani Classical Music" written by Dr. Hema Hirlekar is the*ideal choice.

Hindustani classical music has become very popular in the last few years. Concerts held all over the world are packed to capacity. Statistics reveals that only a handful of audience truly appreciate the classical music with any degree of knowledge. This book aims to lift the rest to total enjoyment at par with the handful circle.

The canopy of Hindustani classical music is vast. There are many books in the market that explore Hindustani music from different angles, sometimes focussing on just one part such as Khayal. Refreshingly, Hema Hirlekar has produced a unique blend that is at once easy for a raw listener yet comprehensive for highly initiated. It is organised for extremely easy understanding of the musical terms, the music, the genres, the gharanas, and the concerts.

Some special features of the book:

* It explains all aspects of Hindustani classical music ably supported with lively anecdotes.
* It carries a useful glossary of prevalent terms and explanations, and not just with dictionary meanings.
* A dedicated chapter on how to appreciate music, what to expect from a concert and what, when and how to listen, is included.
* An interesting take on popular raags unlike in any other book, describes the raag, its features, moods, rasas, and related popular songs sung at specific times.

The recommendations by renowned vocalist Pt. Vikas Kashalkar, classical flutist Pt. Keshav Ginde and dean of music faculty, Delhi University Dr. Anjali Mittal make the book stand out from the rest. A CD revealing the finer points of the music accompanies the book.

Binay Srivastava

How Classical Music Benefits Children With Learning Disabilities

We have long known about the ability of classical music to provide pleasure and stir up deep emotions. Undoubtedly, music has a powerful impact on the brain. Studies have shown that classical music can also help children with special needs through a variety of significant improvements including reduced stress, increased IQ, and improved ability to concentrate. Further, music can make children feel more positive and improve their creative thinking. The bottom line is that classical music can make a huge difference in the lives of those with disorders like autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADD and ADHD and mental retardation.

The Mozart Effect and the Power of Music

The term "The Mozart Effect" has gone mainstream, as now there are a variety of products including everything from CDs to toys that use Mozart's music to improve a person's ability to perform mental tasks. A wide variety of experts theorize that listening to Mozart can actually boost intelligence too. Don Campbell who wrote The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit has declared that the Mozart Effect is "an inclusive term signifying the transformational powers of music in health, education, and well-being."

An issue of Nature Journal in 1993 published remarkable findings from studies at The University of California at Irvine. In one study, group of students listened to Mozart while a second group listed to a tape with suggestions for relaxation. A third test group just had 10 minutes of silence. When these students were given a test on spatial IQ, those who listened to Mozart showed to have a significantly higher spatial IQ.

Some scientists speculate that complicated sounds like classical music boosts the operation of firing patterns in the brain's cortex. Studies have also shown that those even with Alzheimer's disease do better on spatial IQ tests after listening to Mozart. One of the reasons that classical music is so powerful in contrast to other forms of music is that it has sequences that repeat throughout a musical piece. Often these sequences appear about every 20 or 30 seconds. Due to the fact that brain wave patterns also take place in 30-second cycles, this type of music can provide the most powerful type of response.

The Mozart Effect has very real implications for those with learning disorders. Listening to classical music will not only boost IQ, but it will also help children concentrate better and memorize new information. When a child hears classical music, it can create the ideal conditions for learning and creativity.

One additional boost to the implications of classical music's positive impact on learning and the brain occurred in 1998 when the governor of Georgia Zell Miller included over $100,000 annually in the budget for the state for tapes and CDs of classical music for all of children born in Georgia. He was persuaded to take this bold step due to the various studies that listening to classical music spurs intelligence.

Music Therapy

Classical music can positively impact everything from emotional development to motor skills to cognitive functioning. There is an entire field of psychology called Music Therapy where therapists improve the health of their clients through using music. Professionals like teachers, physicians and psychologists regularly refer children for music therapy. Music Therapists can even help rehabilitate people who have had strokes through the power of music.

Kids with learning disorders like ADD, ADHD, and autism can benefit from Music Therapy, as it will help them to feel calmer and less impulsive. Further, many children will feel more comfortable opening up about their feelings when they are exposed to music. At this point, therapists ban help children to overcome their frustrations and assist to boost their self-esteem.

Distractions and Music

One thing that many children with learning disorders have in common is that they are easily distracted. Different noises can take their attention away from a task at hand. However, when classical music is used therapeutically, it changes the way the ear functions and stimulates the brain.

Children with a variety of learning disorders including autism are experiencing positive results from Tomatis Listening Therapy. During therapy sessions, classical music is sent into the right ear and the sound is also vibrated through the bones in the body. One of the goals of this therapy is to get the ears in sync and re-balance the system. The philosophy behind this treatment is that it can allow its recipients to begin performing to the best of their abilities.

Many children have also improved their ADHD conditions through learning to play a music instrument. The act of practicing playing classical music and listening to it at the same time can teach kids to lengthen their attention span.

The Calming Ability of Music

When children with special needs listen to classical music, it provides a positive and relaxing experience. Remarkably, classical music can also reduce stress and ease frustrations. Further, it can reduce muscle tension and slow down the heart rate. When these changes occur, the mind is more open to learning and also to communicating with others.

One study at the Baltimore St Agnes Health Care by Raymond Bahr, MD showed that when doctors played classical music for their heart patients it had the same impact as a 10 mg dose of Valium! The implications of this study for those with special needs are clear. When children with autism, cerebral palsy, ADD, ADHD, and mental retardation are able to relax and calm down, dramatic changes in their behavior become possible.

Listen to a sample of how classical music can help your child with any learning disability such as autism, Down syndrome, or any other special need by visiting