Rediscovered Families

A Ridiculously Easy Way to Introduce Kids to Classical Music

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I would love it if you came to visit me at my workplace and asked me to recommend a book.

I work in a library and I really enjoy books, so as you can imagine, I enjoy my job immensely. One of my responsibilities is the children’s room.

Our library is small, but we have a wonderful collection of children’s books and a fabulous reading chair for parents. So come on in and let me introduce you to one of our favorites.

Can You Hear It?

” Classical music is filled with unforgettable images, from tiptoeing sugarplum fairies to honking Parisian car horns”
William Lach

This book helps to introduce children to some of those wonderful pieces of music through great works of Art. It is brilliantly done.

How it works

Thirteen pictures set the scene for each piece of music. You are asked to gaze at a wide variety of beautiful and interesting artwork, while playing the accompanying tracks on the enclosed CD. On each page are guided questions that help readers make connections between the sounds of the instruments and the mental images they can convey.

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Photo Credit: Peter Roan

For Example Chrysanthemums a Japanese print of a bee hovering over some flowers (pictured above) is paired with Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Flight of the Bumblebee.

  • “The violins and the flute play the bee at the start of the piece, using many short quick notes to convey the bee’s roundabout flying pattern.”
  • “Can you hear the busy bumblebee flying from flower to flower?”
  • “Can you also hear the bee hovering above a flower, played by the violins using lower notes?”
  • “Can you also hear the bee flying as before, but this time heavy with nectar, played by the clarinets?”

Can You Hear It? opens with “An Introduction to Musical Instruments” section, which is informative and interesting, although you may want to skip it with younger children. At the back is a brief section with notes on the artists, composers, and the works.

This book is really popular at our library and doesn’t stay on the shelf for long. It is a feast for the senses and introduces children to wonderful pieces  of art and music. It is simple enough to use that you do not need to know anything about music or art. In fact you may learn something yourself.

This is a book to savor

This is a book to savor and enjoy with your children. Older children might breeze through all thirteen pieces independently, but I think this is something for parents and children to share together.

It is not something to be rushed, take your time to enjoy the artwork and the music. Perhaps you might invite your children to join you and look at one or two masterpieces at a time.

A Ridiculously Easy Way to Introduce Kids to Classic Music

Some interesting questions to ask

The only criticism I have is that all the questions require a yes or no answer and that can stifle conversation. I would suggest that when you first go to a page you ask some open-ended questions such as

  • What do you see?
  • What do you notice first?
  • What words come to mind when you see this picture?
  • What do you like about this picture?
  • What would you like to ask the artist about this painting?
  • If you could jump into this picture where would you go?
  • What would you do?

When you play the music ask things like

  • What do you hear?
  • What pictures does the music paint in your head?
  • How does this piece of music go with this painting?

Then read the information and ask the questions posed on the page. Afterward if you have time you might replay the track and invite children to move to the music or create their own artwork to go with it.

This is definitely one of the books I would recommend if you came into our library looking for something to read with your children. It’s not a traditional story, more of an I Spy Book with a twist. But it is a wonderful book to enjoy together.

Want to buy the book?

I would recommend checking Can You Hear It out of your local library, however if you wish to purchase it you can find it here .

Now it’s your turn

I’m always on the look out for new children’s books. What are you reading with your kids?

23 thoughts on “A Ridiculously Easy Way to Introduce Kids to Classical Music”

  1. I can’t WAIT to get this from the library! Thanks so much for reviewing it and adding your questions – I especially liked the one about jumping into the picture. 🙂

    1. I think you will enjoy this book Kendra, it is a feast for the eyes. I’m so glad you will be getting it from your library 🙂

  2. This looks so beautiful! The library was an important place for me as a child. I was fixated on reading rather than listening. I wonder how my world would have opened up if I had the pleasure of a book/CD like this one! I’m so happy for all the kids and adult that get to enjoy it.

    1. It was the same for me Sandra. I wish there were books like this available when I was growing up. Still I get to enjoy them now, which is one of the best parts about working in a library.

  3. Eva @ The Multitasking Mummy

    We love books and music and can’t wait to get this at our library! I really hope they have it and if not, I’ll ask them to get it!

    Thanks for linking up .

    1. I had a quick look at Amazon UK and they have it, but who knows maybe your library will have it on their shelves.

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  5. Oh, I just saw this book on Amazon today. I want to get it for our Classical Music week that is coming up! Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

  6. Hi Sharon,

    after reading your post in summer I always was thinking of this book ;-). Unfortunately our library doesn’t have many English books, but when I placed an order with The Book Depository, I added it. And I love it! The music and pictures go so well together! My daughter was also very interested and sat still for about 10 minutes, which is a record ;-). Thanks a lot for this recommendation!

    1. I am so glad that you found the book and your daughter enjoyed it. I wish the author would make another such book. It’s such a neat idea!

  7. I just wanted to let you know that after not having a look at this book for about 3 months, my daughter and I sat down yesterday and enjoyed it again so much! She explained to her doll, who had to join, that she needs to listen carefully and was – again – fascinated by the pics. It’s a great book to come back to, as every time one will find/notice something new in the pictures or the music.

    1. Sharon Harding

      Thank you for letting me know Daniela. You just made my day! I’m so glad you are enjoying this book with your daughter. It is a wonderful one to share.

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