During my undergraduate years, I took a music history course called “Mozart and his Music” in which the professor introduced his students to the glorious music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It made a great impression on me and, over the years, I’ve often referred back to the professor’s playlist. Mozart’s music has since become a mainstay in my family’s daily life.
Many studies suggest that playing Mozart for children can boost their concentration and general listening skills. According to research outlined in the book “The Mozart Effect” by Don Campbell, music can relieve stress, improve communication, and expand creativity. Further studies suggest that children who are exposed to the great masters are more likely to appreciate a wider range of music in later years.
Whether these studies are true or not isn’t extremely important to me. All I know is that when I play Mozart for my kids, they listen and take notice. They have never complained or asked to turn the music off.
I play Mozart while I’m driving my kids around in the car. The music seems to keep them occupied and lessen squabbles. I play it on rainy days while they’re playing inside. It has become a nightly ritual to play it at bedtime.
Bedtime can be the greatest challenge of the day for many families. This is where the soft, gentle, comfort of Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 21”, 2nd movement, shows its genius. Marked andante, it’s a wonderfully slow piece that helps calm things down. Try playing the “Concerto for Flute and Harp” in the background while reading a bedtime story to the kids.
Play Mozart while your kids are coloring or painting! Painting to music allows children to feel the movements and emotions involved in creating a work of art. Invite your child to swing their arms like a music conductor while they paint. Encourage them to “paint what they feel.” Discuss what pictures or colors the music brings to mind.
“What do you think of while hearing this?” or “What do you feel?” are good starter questions. Choose songs with different tempos and moods. Perhaps begin with bright, upbeat music, such as Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca” for one painting, and then change to a gentle piece, such as the “Flute Concerto K. 313” for the next painting. Give them a new canvas or sheet of paper for each new music selection.
January 27, 2017 marks the 261st anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. What better way to celebrate Mozart’s birthday than listening to his music? Mozart wrote more than 600 works during his lifetime, including 41 symphonies, 22 musical dramas, 12 violin concertos and 27 piano concertos.
An excellent CD to listen to with your child is “My First Mozart Album” by Naxos. This CD contains 17 tracks, including the famous “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (4th movement), Papageno’s song from “The Magic Flute” and the beautiful “Elvira Madigan” concerto.
There are several wonderful children’s books about Mozart. “Who was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?” by Yona Zeldis will certainly appeal to young readers. This book recounts the major events of Mozart’s life, including his tour of the royal European courts, his career in Salzburg, his family life in Vienna, and his early death at age 36. The black-and-white illustrations and the timelines of Mozart’s life offer a good opportunity for children to understand Mozart’s life in a historical context.
Another engaging book to read with your children is “The Magic of Mozart” by Ellen Switzer. This book recounts a brief biography of Mozart, followed by the story of “The Magic Flute” with colorful photos of marionettes.
Spending time with your child listening to Mozart can be a starting point for future music lessons or other creative endeavors. But most importantly, listening to music promotes joyful family time together.