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.