Composer Study: Igor Stravinsky
In July we made our first venture into the world of classical composers. My kids are no strangers to classical music, but it was first time we’ve discussed the person who wrote what we were listening to. This first unit was much simpler than what I plan to do through the next school year, mostly because I wasn’t planning to do a true composer study. We only did it because Grandma had just come from Russia and Stravinsky fit into the conversation, though he wouldn’t normally be one of my first choices for composers.
We started off by reading through the first section of My First Classical Music Book, which is about “When and Where” we hear classical music (in movies, at weddings, for dancing, etc.). It’s a great introduction, and it comes with a CD that has clips to listen to for each page. Then we turned to the second section of the book, which discusses a number of composers. We read the page on Stravinsky as we played the “Russian Dance” from Petrushka on the CD.
Mostly we just listened to The Firebird, music the boys are already familiar with (thanks to Little Einsteins: Rocket’s Firebird Rescue) and talked about the fact that Stravinsky wrote it. We also found some interesting information on the Classics for Kids website. I love their podcasts because they’re really short (about 6 minutes) but have good information specifically presented to children. There were four episodes specifically about Stravinsky and the Firebird. Every time the boys heard the music they’d start talking about the characters from the story on Little Einsteins. I’m glad the music has stuck in their heads!
The only other piece of music we spent any significant amount of with was The Soldier’s Tale from Maestro Classics. I love the biographical information on these CDs. The story was a little mature for my boys, so it wasn’t their favorite thing we’ve listened to, but after I had played it a few times Ian started requesting it. My main goal in listening to this CD was to provide some exposure to the main piece and to hear the information about Stravinsky’s life, so I’d say it was a success. We’ll come back to Stravinsky in a few years and then I think they’ll get even more out of it.
Although I have some background in classical music, Stravinsky was not terribly familiar to me. I really enjoyed finding out more about his life and listening to his music more purposefully throughout the month. Someday we’ll dig a little deeper into our composers, but for now a gentle introduction is just right for both the kids and myself.