Playing for Kids

March 24, 2011 at 04:03 PM ·

What an audience.  I'm interested to know if you like playing for kids.  I've always liked it.  I've had plenty of fun informal playing sessions, but this one is among my favorite memories.  Please share yours.

One summer afternoon, about a month after my high school graduation, some friends of the family and their two sons, ages 8 and 6, came to visit.  Jean, the mother, knew I was a serious violin student and asked me to play.

I played from memory -- nothing flashy, just the straightforward lyrical stuff that reaches my soul -- finishing with A. Ehrhardt's Berceuse, Op. 38, No. 11, which I'd learned early in the first year of lessons.  Now, some years beyond beginner stage, I could play it in multiple positions with a full singing tone.

During this piece, the kids looked at each other, then at their parents.  Their faces lit up more than once with happy grins.  I knew what they were feeling -- the same delight I had felt years earlier when my first teacher played the selection and showed me how to make it sing.

My way with kids: I don't play down to them.  I just play things that engage my mind and soul -- whether elementary, like the Ehrhardt piece, or a lot more advanced.  If the music really grabs me, regardless of level, I find that the kids respond positively, and they're happy to go along for the ride.

Replies (8)

March 24, 2011 at 10:51 PM ·

Greetings,

Jim, I share those sentiments.  I am often asked to play wsomething for three or four minutes for elementary school kids or the PTA or whatever.  The person in question (usually a school prinicipal) then hums and haws and says `well, violin.mmmmm. They are too young for classical music. Can you play a them from a popular animation?`  Or somehting along those lines.  Since ther eis never a piano (or player) I always decline and play unaccompanied Bach.

I can say from the bottom of my heart that kids from age two upwards love Bach.  They are enthralled.  To be honest,  I think they know more about highbrow music than adults.   Of course Bach spent his time in between writing music er,  what`s the expression,  `creating children.`  Maybe that`s the reason.

Cheers,

Buri

March 25, 2011 at 12:18 AM ·

Buri,

Find the music you want to play, and make up some animated cartoon that it was used as the sound track.

  • Yu-go-oh in the Land of the Lost Lagoon
  • The Three Kerbos Brothers in the Underworld
  • Brandy Brawnson in the Agean Sea
  • Kool Gang and the Tiger

Then play whatever you want!

March 25, 2011 at 01:44 AM ·

LOL 'creating children'

March 25, 2011 at 02:29 AM ·

Every time one of my groups has played for kids, we got treated like rock stars.  I am not sure if our sample was skewed, or if half of it was just being happy not to be in class, but I definitely think if you get to them before they form preconceptions, by and large they LOVE classical music.

March 25, 2011 at 03:10 AM ·

Buri yes but he had so many he couldn't see them grow and develop...   : )  He was too busy making the next one!   

But yes Bach's music is entertaining! 

March 27, 2011 at 12:16 AM ·

Buri and Nicole, thank you for your input.  It confirms my own early preadolescent experience.

In case anyone here didn't see these two pieces when they first went up on the board on March 6 and 8, respectively, check out Karen's thread, Help Save Public School Music, and Laurie's blog, Music education is no 'frill.'

If I could have one audience a week like the one I mentioned at the top of this thread, I'd happily give the time.  I'm sure that sharing the music this way has, more than once, helped me -- and many others here -- to make a positive difference in the life of a child.

March 28, 2011 at 10:06 PM ·

 After playing to young kids I always like to get out a small violin and get them to line up to have a try.  What is amazing is how every one of them makes a different sound and how each sound they make so accurately reflects their personality!

March 28, 2011 at 10:12 PM ·

 I perform weekly during the school year, usually 4 30-minute shows for grades K-6. Our string quintet goes out most Tuesdays. Mostly playing for kids is great, but there are two things that I've noticed about the different schools:

1. Concert behavior varies widely, and seems NOT to be function of economic class or family background but how the teachers and principal chose to have kids act.

2. The food they serve the kids in the cafeterias is really foul stuff. No wonder they're growing up to get diabetes and heart disease.

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