Want to incorporate classical music appreciation as a weekly component in your homeschool schedule? Come check out my kid-friendly, easy-on-the-parents Music Curriculum. You can try a free sample lesson HERE.
How is your September going? How is it halfway over?!
If you are just joining us, let me catch you up on how things work ’round these parts.
Each month I post a new list of great classical pieces to help you infuse your home with music. The monthly playlist is followed up with weekly lessons (posted on Wednesdays) to help you teach your kids just a little bit more about the music. It’s all designed to equip you to engage your kids in classical music in a fun, accessible way.
(You can find our September playlist HERE. So far this month we have covered Gustav Holst’s The Planets and Autumn from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.)
Today’s lesson is a little bit different. Usually I tell lots of stories about the music or the composer, giving you interesting background information to make the music come alive for your kids. That is the bread and butter of what I do, for sure. But one of my favorite things about studying and teaching music is that it is truly a whole brain activity. It doesn’t have to only be about linear, explainable stories. It can simply be how the music makes you feel.
And music is powerful for making us feel things.
Ok, time for a little experiment for you and your kids. I have two fascinating videos I think your children will really enjoy. They take small movie scenes and show how changing the music completely changes the viewer’s emotions.
Before you begin, try to establish a calm environment, without distractions. Relax your body and focus your attention.
Are you calm? Are you focused?
Watch the videos and see what happens. Pay careful attention to your emotions.
(The first thing you will see in The Lion King clip is the scene without any music at all – just a heads up, in case the silence confuses you.)
Did you feel it? Did you find yourself projecting sadness, fear, or a sense of adventure into the eyes of the animals, based solely on what you were hearing? Fascinating, right?!
Try this one from The Pirates of the Caribbean. Just relax, watch, and observe how your emotions change based on the music.
Could you feel actual differences inside your own body? Feelings of fear? Joy? Foreboding?
What you are feeling is happening because your brain is releasing neuropeptides. Those neuropeptides actually cause the physiological responses you feel, whether it is a flutter in your stomach or a wash of calming peace. Your brain is communicating to your body, based on the input it is receiving – and music is participating in the process. This is why music is such a crucial piece in filmmaking. It is a sharp tool for telling the viewer how to feel, and great filmmakers use it brilliantly.
I’m a music teacher, not a scientist, so I certainly don’t get all the details of how this works.
But I know it works.
And that brings me to today’s piece!
Just like in the movies, you can infuse different emotions into your home based on the kind of music you play. It’s crazy, but true. The brain is wired and conditioned to receive music as a cue for what emotion you should be feeling. You can use this to your advantage, just like a great filmmaker.
Jules Massenet’s Meditation is a great one for infusing peace, calm, and a sense of settled ease into your home. It was originally written as a transition piece for one of Massenet’s operas, but it has since been lifted as a standalone piece. It is one of the most calming pieces of classical music you will ever hear. Use it as your own transition piece when you are calming your kids down, perhaps before nap time or quiet reading time. Over time, it will become an auditory cue for your kids – their brains will begin to associate the music with calming activities.
And here’s what’s cool! You can achieve the opposite effect as well. Try the William Tell Overture to infuse some energy into your next toy clean up time!
Enjoy this gorgeous piece and celebrate what an amazing tool music can be in your home!