Monday, January 27, 2014

Music Appreciation Class for Kids : Bach

Bach Music Class Toddlers PRe-K
Introducing Bach to the youngest crowd can be fun!

With Halloween in mind, I couldn't help but pick Bach as our new composer to explore. I always thought Toccata & Fugue was the perfect background music to a slightly spooky Halloween event and now that we have kids in the house, a spooky Halloween party is out of the question but hearing a classical piece without the decor is fine. Here's how we explored Bach during Halloween week.  


Surprising a child with a moment of slight confusion is always a good way to capture their attention upon beginning a class. Be it an awkward story or a strange picture that doesn't belong or even a funny teacher wearing a shirt wrong, if it's done on purpose, it can get major attention. To begin this music class, I brought in a book showing a big picture of spacecraft Voyager 1 and played in the background Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 First Movement. Somehow, Adrian was puzzled. Was this the right class? Why an astronomy picture instead of a composer? Turns out as I explained to them, the piece they were hearing was traveling in space as we speak aboard Voyager 1. The composer who wrote the piece, Bach, is so well known throughout Planet Earth that his music was chosen to represent  all of us who live on the Blue Planet. 

Music Instruments Nomenclature


Bach of course wrote more than concertos and wrote more music that also appears on the Voyager Golden Records flying through the Kuiper Belt right now. We watched a beautiful Cello Suite no.1 played by Misha Maisky and I asked the kids whether they knew the instrument of not. To help with the identification of the instrument, I placed down on the floor several instrument nomenclature cards featuring instruments we own and/or have seen before (nomenclature cards found on Counting Coconuts). Adrian eventually picked the cello card off the floor telling me it was the one playing and we learned it was called a "cello" (he initially went for "big violin"). We then watched/listened to Brandenburg Concerto No.3 and I invited the children to pick the cards of the instruments they were seeing in the video (piano, violin, cello, double bass). They loved finding the music instrument cards for each piece we listened to. We tried the same activity with Air on the G String and added the archlute and organ to our vocabulary (I skipped viola and  violone but it was interesting to see "old" instruments from Bach's era) and closed the exploration time with Toccata & Fugue in D so the kids could hear and see a pipe organ and match it with its card.  We also discussed the tempo of the piece as it's something we learned about earlier and tried to imagine the piece played with other instruments. Would it sound as "spooky" played with a flute? What if we added instruments like big drums? Would it be even "spookier"? How about the environment? Spooky with lights on or off?

Water Goblet Music
Water Goblets can Make be Used to Play Toccata and Fugue!


Everyone is an artist and everyone loves to play music so I always let the children pick a music instrument from our bin and we then try to re-create the main piece of the day. In this case, it was Toccata & Fugue. To really reproduce the composition, the children quickly realized they needed more than just an instrument from our bin as the bin contained no piano, keyboard or anything else that would keep the melody. As such I showed them what someone did to keep that tune without any instruments...He used glasses filled to different levels (Glass Harp). We watched the entire video and the kids were amazed that the song could be made with just fingers, glasses and water. Of course, we don't own this many water goblets so we couldn't try the entire composition but the children loved sliding their finger on top of a water goblets to make them "sing". It was true magic to their ears.

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  1. Wonderful ideas! I just found your site and I will now be a regular. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas.

    1. You're welcome.I'm glad you found some ideas to try and left the blog while inspired. I hope to keep it up while I still have my little one at home! :)