30 January 2011

Breakfast Music

Oatmeal again tomorrow morning per Cool Guy's request, so I thought I'd talk about another aspect of breakfast here: music in the morning.

I'm not at all a TV-in-the-morning person.  I just do not like that kind of noise before, say, 7:00 pm.  And, honestly, I'd be just fine with no sound at all except for birdsong.  But also, I feel that there is a lack of cultural enrichment going on in daily life.  Public schools now don't have art or music at all, and I wonder when and how are children going to become familiar with the good stuff?

Music is very important to me, and I want my boys to be comfortable with more than just what they hear on the radio, so I began something about a year ago that is working out rather well.  Every morning for three months, we listen to a single composer while we eat breakfast.  Right now, it's Tchaikovsky.  And The Nutcracker is the first music to play on my playlist every morning.  It is so pleasant to listen to.  Cool Guy especially loves this music and hums right along with it as he is scarfing down his oats.

Three months of the same music morning after morning?  You think I'm nuts, right?  Usually after the first week, I do too, and then it kind of grows on me (and on the boys), and as each day goes on, the music becomes more and more ingrained in us.  Right now, I can't even imagine beginning a morning without The Nutcracker playing.  And Cool Guy and I find ourselves humming it all day long.  It's really nice.  (Encyclopedia is a little jaded about the whole thing, but I have caught him also humming along when he thought I couldn't hear him.)

Some things I've found about this method:
  • Instrumental works better than vocal for kids.  That opera-sounding music does not have the same appeal.
  • Tuneful is better than arty.  Bach over Debussey.
  • Just playing the music is enough.  No lectures, no commentary, no drawing attention to it at all.
The successes so far have been Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, Tchaikovsky.  Debussey did NOT work.  Just not something you can hum along to. 

It seems like a silly thing to do, but it is so gratifying when, sometime down the road, we hear some of that music, perhaps in a TV commercial, and the boys remember it.  It's in their bones now, and they'll always have it.  And someday when they decide not to be little heathens anymore, they will have at least this much.  They will be familiar with some great music without ever even having to work at it.  All they had to do was sit down and have breakfast.

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