Music for Kids
Although not specifically violin music for kids, we have bought a number of CD's with music for kids over the last couple of years that they have really enjoyed, and are a great addition to any families collection. Here is a round up of what our children enjoyed – and in some cases nearly drove my wife up the wall with :-) ....
Classical Kids series
A fantastic way to get kids interested in classical music, we first came across this series when we got the tape of 'Mr Bach comes to call' out of the library. We then got out another in the series – 'Beethoven lives upstairs'. The kids (not to say my wife and I) enjoyed it so much, that my wife asked for a set of this series for her birthday.
Each tape or CD in the series is a story revolving around the life of a specific composer. The narrative is punctuated with excerpts from the composers works which are beautifully woven into the story. The characters in the stories are often children, which the kids identify with more readily. Although the stories themselves are fictitious, they include a lot of factual information about each composer and the times in which they lived..
One CD which revolves specifically around a violin is 'Vivaldi's ring of mystery' – and I still cringe every time I hear Katarina drop that violin *wince*. My favourite line? Katerina complains to Giovanni that the Stradivarius violin has gone missing. Giovanni's response - “Then buy another one!” (The story is set in the early 1700's when Antonio Stradivari was still making violins, and so you could actually buy another one. In contrast, as at late 2006, the most expensive violin in the world, also the most expensive instrument ever sold at auction, is a Stradivarius known as 'the hammer' which Sold at Christies's for USD$3.54 million on May 16th 2006).
We bought the CD's in sets of three which work out slightly cheaper per CD. We have Mr Bach comes to call, Beethoven lives upstairs, Tchaikovsky comes to America, Hallelujah Handel, Vivaldi's ring of mystery and Mozart's magnificent voyage. This series is definitely the top of our list of music for kids.
Peter and the Wolf
Also specifically written as music for kids, this is also a story where the narrative is complemented with music. In this case, each character in the story is represented by a specific section in the orchestra, so the children get introduced to the different instruments in the orchestra through listening to the story.
Of course, the part for the hero in the story, Peter, goes to the strings :-). Every time I hear that joyful Peter theme I can't help wishing Sergei Prokofiev had written more of it. Great music for kids to listen to, even more fun to play for yourself!
Classical Music Startup Kit
This is a pair of CDs we got from the Sonlight catalog (Sonlight is the home schooling curriculum we use). The CD is a collection of pieces which illustrate the development of music in the west from the 1500's onwards. There are two CD's in the set, with an extensive booklet in each, explaining what each piece illustrates. For the kids to really get an educational benefit from it, you would need to explain some of the information in the booklet to them if they are too young to read it for themselves, but even without that, its a nice sampler of different styles of classical music.
It was from playing this CD that we found our eldest son is fascinated with the sound of the harpsichord. Unfortunately for him, the particular piece he loved was fairly repetitive. It was fine for the first half a dozen times, but when you are homeschooling the kids, they get a lot more opportunity to play, and replay, and replay, and replay (you get the idea) music they like. If I recall correctly, the CD got banned for a while to preserve my wifes sanity!