Introduce Children to Music

I read this article on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” – check out the full text here.

Here is the last part about the author’s opinions on music and children – good stuff.

  • Talking down to kids about music never works, just as it doesn’t work in any other subject matter. Children can smell disingenuousness at a thousand paces. Moreover, there’s no reason to gate kids only to “music for children.” Yes, Peter and the Wolf is wonderful, but it’s not the endpoint of the journey.
  • I have yet to meet a small child who turns away from new music, even the supposedly “thorniest” — there are no preconceptions about what music is “supposed” to be, which is very freeing. Kids don’t sniff at abstract or modern visual art, and they don’t turn up their noses at abstract music, either.
  • Forget that “baby brain” business — that classical music should be listened to because it will help get your kid into Harvard. Not only do scientists say that it’s not true (though many companies have made a lot of money pushing the idea), but it’s not a good reason anyway. What’s the matter with listening to music purely for enjoyment? On the other hand, a few great things came out of that kind of marketing, like a segment from HBO’s “Classical Baby” series that marries a Miro painting to music by Bach. (You can check it out below.)
  • Smaller fry have yet to absorb the (false) notion that classical music is stuffy, snobby, or boring. It’s just sound, as far as they’re concerned. If they can dance to it, all the better.
  • Exposure to classical music shouldn’t be doled out in strictly educational, “eat-your-broccoli-because-it’s-good-for-you” doses. It can and should be part of the larger flow of life. In my own house, last evening’s play list included some of John Coltrane‘s Impulse sessions,Stravinsky‘s Wind Symphony, the Kronos Quartet‘s “Caravan” recording and the Yo Gabba Gabba album “Music Is Awesome.” (Yes, it is!)
  • Lots of the “traditional” avenues of introducing classical music and opera to children are not necessarily relevant to children today. Sure, there are the amazing Bugs Bunny cartoons like 1949’s “The Rabbit of Seville” or “What’s Opera, Doc?” (also known as “Kill the Wabbit”) from 1957, but they’re more than half a century old now, and so are many of the references within these cartoons.
  • Some live concert programming for kids is amazingly good. I’m a big fan of the current incarnation of the New York Philharmonic‘s Young People’s Concerts. Last season’s walk-through of Magnus Lindberg’s Feria should be required listening and viewing for audiences of all ages. (And the DVDs of Leonard Bernstein‘s Young People’s broadcasts are a staple in our home collection.) Some such children-focused programming, though good-intentioned, is honestly pretty awkward and stiff — and, when you get right down to it, deadly dull and earnest to a fault.
  • Humor is great. Everyone in our family loves Lemony Snicket and Nathaniel Stookey’s The Composer Is Dead, even though many of the jokes fly right over our kid’s head. And physical comedy never fails to please; I heard more belly laughs than I’ve heard in ages at Nathan Gunn’s performance as Papageno in a Metropolitan Opera “family” performance of the Julie Taymor-directed Magic Flute.
  • The music belongs to children just as much it belongs to “us” — the ones with the years of listening experience, who have already absorbed current conventions of concert-going practice (don’t applaud between movements, obey the dress code, etc.), and who might well have had years of formal training. Classical music isn’t a museum piece to be looked at and not touched, as it were.

A nice upgrade

I just installed my new set of 7 virtual instruments from EastWest Sounds – and they sound unbelievable! There is something to be said about having the right sound to inspire your creative juices. While most of it happens inside my head, it sure is nice to hear an amazingly close approximation validate what I was hearing in my head. I purchased the Complete Composers Collection which contains: Symphonic Orchestra Gold, Pianos Gold, Symphonic Choirs, Goliath, Stormdrum 2, Voices of Passion (think Gladiator), Ra (ethnic instruments). Amazingly efficient CPU load so far – seems like I’ll be able to load a lot of voices at once – even on my old G5, Dual 2 GHz!

Worth checking it out:

On to new things

Had a blast watching a movie on a big screen, and hearing my music – it was cool.  Sure we will have more showings at film festivals in the future.

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But while that works itself out – time to move on to the next project – again, from a former student.  This is a short – last I saw it was about 12min or so. Heavy drama – so it will test my skills for sure.  Looking forward to it.  Oh, and a nice order from EastWest  – new samples arriving soon!



A first…

…for my film music aspirations.

I am going to the Bergenfield Film Festival tonight to see the screening of Honorable Retribution at the Clearview Cinema 5 theater. I am excited to see the film on a big screen, and hopefully hear a convincing soundtrack! I am also looking forward to hearing what other fellow composers are doing and make some meaningful contacts.

Here is a link to the festival website:

And the schedule (HR is showing in Theater 5): For A PDF Schedule To This Year’s Festival

If you want to know a little more about the movie, its creator, and general information, check out the website:

And the IMDb page:

I’ll post some pictures and twitter updates while I’m there. Here goes nothing.