Wednesday, February 28, 2007

For Music Junkies

Anyone looking for an easily accessible music appreciation course for kids should investigate The Classic Composers series from International Masters Publishers. It's a Time-Life send-you-one-disc-of-our-choosing-every-three-weeks kind of a deal. I got a sample disc (Mozart) in the mail yesterday. I usually just throw those things in the trash, but this had an actual CD in it, so I checked it out. It's pretty cool, actually. Each CD comes with a 24-page booklet detailing the composer's bio, a "turning point" in his life, "life and times," "In [historical Context," a listener's guide, the composer's influences and ends with a 20 question quiz (answers provided).

The CD itself comes with ~60 minutes of the composers "greatest hits." The Mozart CD includes the overture to the Marriage of Figaro, the Clarinet Concerto in B Flat Major, the Piano Concerto No. 21 "Elvira Madigan", "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," the first movement of the "Sinfonia Concertante" (my favorite) and some others, recorded by well-known ensembles. Clearly none of this is in depth information--more of a taste--but from the sample and what I can tell from the promotional literature they sent, it's enough to introduce kids to classical music without overwhelming them.

Yes, they send a junky free gift with your order. "Buy as many as you want, cancel anytime." We decided to get a couple and see if they're all as useful as the Mozart cd is.


Gary said...

Sorry to be snarky, but if you're ever talking to a musicologist (or a clarinetist), it's the Mozart Clarinet Concerto in *A*... :-)

And surely if they made a mistake like that, there are better sources for classical music and info than this...

The Princess Mom said...

Gah! Thanks for the correction. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be too specific. ;-)

In their defense, they did get the Köchel listing right. And I looked through the info in the booklet and it jibes with what little I know about Mozart (including the fact that Salieri did not poison him).

No, this series is not going to substitute for a rigorous musicology class, but I think it's a good introduction for elementary school students and non-musical middle schoolers. My goal, at this point, is for the boys to hear the Clarinet Concerto or the Overture to Figaro and say, "Hey, that's Mozart!" If they know a little bit about the composer, then when a music teacher or choir director mentions him, they've got some prior knowledge on which to build. And maybe that prior knowledge might inspire them to become better musicians. Who knows?