Music Appreciation Through Cultural Stories
Part of our work with the children is to help them appreciate the culture that surrounds them. We want children to gain an appreciation for music, art, customs, and the natural world they participate in daily. One way we help develop this appreciation is by offering cultural stories. Teachers always have several cultural stories ready to share about the artwork displayed on the walls, the photographs in the continent folders, and the decorations on the shelf. We share information about geography, nature, animals, artists, and their artwork, the songs we sing, or even the fruit in the snack bowls. These stories are usually short yet share interesting tidbits of information that that intrigue the child and share a bit of new vocabulary as well. We hope that the child will immediately want to share the new information with his or her friends.
Activities for sharing cultural stories about music!
Musical Cultural Story: ages 3 to 80+
Directions: Introduce your child to your favorite musician(s). Take five minutes and develop a cultural story about one of your favorite musicians and share it with your child. Use one of the three examples of cultural stories below as a guideline.
- Find fun facts: Take a moment to jot down a few fun facts about your favorite musician(s). Consider including where they were born, any interesting facts about their lives, what musical instruments they may have played. (Avoid sharing facts about significant hardships. We want to keep things light for our primary-aged children).
- Ask Why: Consider why you like this musician. Did you listen to this artist’s music with your family? Was this musician’s music a part of your marching band experience? It is important that you share why this musician is important to you.
- Pick a Song: Find 2-3 of the musician’s songs on Spotify, iTunes, or YouTube that you can share with your child. Bonus points if you have an old CD, tape, or album to share.
- Share: Introduce your child to your favorite musician. Share why you like the musician and give a few fun facts about the artist as well. Include a few new vocabulary words, if possible. If your artist wrote operas, explain what an opera is. If your artist played guitar, show a photo of a guitar.
- Listen: Play a few songs from your favorite artist and allow your child to listen. If your child starts to dance, let him or her to move in the way they are inspired to dance.
- Conversation: Ask your child what he or she thinks of the music. Ask open-ended questions such as, “Which song did you like best?” or “What did you think of the music?” At first, your child may not have much to say. However, they will begin to engage over time and appreciate your interest in your opinion.
- Follow Up: Encourage your child to choose an activity to try based on the story you shared. They can draw a picture based on the song you shared, or compose their own songs. They may want to learn more about the place the musician was born.
Musician/Artist Appreciation Cultural Story Examples:
Composers of Classical Music- 3 Part Cards ages 5 and up
Directions: Print and cut the three-part cards. Each classical composer will have a classified card, a printed slip, and a control card (depicting the classified card and its associated slip). Mix up the classified cards and slips. Use your knowledge of the classical composers to match the slips to the photos. Check your work with the control card.
Additional Music-Inspired Activities:
Explore Dynamics and Tempo Through Singing:
- ages 3 to 5 Follow the steps below to complete this activity.
- ages 5 ½ and up Try Singing Command Cards as an independent activity (see below).
1. Invite your child to choose a short song to sing (such as Sarasponda or You are My Sunshine). Invite your child to sing the song to ensure he/she remembers the words.
2. Ask your child to sing the song in the following ways:
- Loudly (forte)
- Quietly (piano)
- VERY quietly (pianissimo)
3. Explain the variation between the loudness or the softness used when singing the song is called Dynamics.
4. Ask your child to sing the song in the following ways:
- Quickly (allegro)
- Slowly (andante)
5. Explain the speed (how fast or how slowly) at which the song is sung is called Tempo.
Singing Command Cards: ages 5 ½ and up
Directions: Print the Singing Command Cards and follow the directions to learn more about dynamics and tempo.
The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential’s Encyclopedic Knowledge Series offers a beautiful set of Musical Instruments information cards through The Gentle Revolution Press. These “Bits of Intelligence” cards include sets that provide information about Famous Composers, which can also be used to explore music appreciation.