(1982: our own infant daughter Karen with us on a musical mission trip to Hungary)
The music we listen to when we’re young has an impact on the rest of our lives!
My mom played music and sang at the piano when I was a baby, and that gave me a deep love of music right from the start --- not just a utilitarian ‘Mozart Effect’ brain boost, but something in my soul and mind that hungered for profound experience of reality.
I could feel the emotion that accompanied beauty and meaning, and I wanted more!
Mom also played records of Classical music that she particularly liked, even music she had heard live and in person by the people on the records, like Yehudi Menuhin playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto --- and she raved about how wonderful it all was! I agreed.
I found out very early that Classical music has a compelling development structure that draws the listener inexorably onward into the future, to the extent that a fairly normal three-year-old like me could choose to sit for twenty or thirty minutes actively engaged with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or Chopin’s ‘Heroic’ Polonaise on old, scratchy 78 rpm records!
And the beauty! The power of a lyrical melody supported by masterful chording and countermelody and orchestration was overwhelming and spiritually aspirational even to a youngster who had just come in from playing in the dirty stream out back.
Pre-schoolers do have the internal capacity for more than silly little songs.
So now I am about to start a new school year teaching a weekly music class with four-year-olds. I want them to get a real taste of what I was so privileged to experience. I decided to reconstruct a list of listening selections of actual pieces I had wrapped myself in at their very age, and I’ll end each class period with about two minutes of ardently absorbing a carefully chosen passage from many of these --- not together with another activity, but just taking it in.
I’ve compiled a playlist of the Classical compositions from my youth in my Youtube channel, and here it is. Some of the works, like Peter and the Wolf, are great for kids and were even intended for them; but several of them that affected me so profoundly are much more intense and hard-hitting, such as Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathetique’ Symphony --- not for the faint of heart but very rewarding and… profound.
Can you hear the compelling nature of these works like I do? Do you feel their depth?