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Multimedia Bibliography – Classical Music

This multimedia bibliography is primarily for teachers (classroom teachers and music specialists) who want to introduce classical music to children in lower and upper elementary school. These resources would also be useful to parents or anyone else interested in the topic, and a few of the resources have elements specifically for children (games, etc.). I have compiled a variety of resources including books, websites and electronic apps, educational programming resources within Austin, and educational and entertaining videos. For the user’s ease, resources are organized by medium. My goal was to create a bibliography that would help teachers plan, implement, and present lessons, and also provide opportunities for students to continue the study on their own. While the items listed vary a great deal in format and content, I believe that they will all be useful in introducing children to classical music and have the potential to inspire a life-long love of beautiful music.


1. Ganeri, Anita. The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.

Medium: book (informational) and CD

Ages: 8 and up

Benjamin Britten’s orchestral piece, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, has been the classic introduction to the symphony orchestra for the past 65 years. Written to highlight individual sections of the orchestra and then weave them together, this piece not only has beautiful music, but also features narration that takes the listener on a tour through the entire orchestra. Anita Ganeri’s book is the perfect complement to the CD of Britten’s music, providing background information, and pictures of, each instrument along with historical background on the orchestra, musical periods, and famous composers. Ganeri also shares examples of different kinds of instruments used in orchestras around the world, gives the reader a peek into the day-to-day life of a professional musician, and includes a glossary of musical terms. The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is the quintessential introduction to classical music and is an excellent resource best used for children in middle to late elementary school.

2. Lach, William. Can You Hear It? Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Medium: book and CD

Ages: 4 and up

Music often evokes vivid pictures in the mind of the listener, and Can You Hear It? pairs classical works with paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, using art to bring the music to life in a new way. Each musical selection on the CD is accompanied by a full-page image in the book, a brief explanation of the connection between the music and the art, and notes indicating specific things to listen for in the piece. At the end of the book there are notes about the works of art and the artists, as well as the composers. The book also contains descriptions of each instrument in the orchestra and pictures or works of art showing the reader what the instrument looks like. Can You Hear It? is a great tool for expanding on a basic knowledge of classical music and teaching children about the use of imagery.

3. Moss. Lloyd. Illus. by Marjorie Priceman. Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1995.

Medium: book (counting)

Ages: 4 and up

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin is a counting book in which readers learn about instruments in the orchestra. The story begins with one trombone playing a solo, then a trumpet joins in and they play a duet, and soon there is an orchestra of ten instruments all playing beautiful music together. The text is both creative, using adjectives that mimic the sounds of the instruments, and informative, using musical terms and telling the reader about different parts of the instruments. Colorful illustrations and clever text make this book an enjoyable lesson about instruments.

 4. Ryan, Pam Munoz. Illus. by Brian Selznick. When Marian Sang. Scholastic Press, 2002.

Medium: book (biographical)

Ages: 4 and up

When Marian Sang is the story of Marian Anderson, an African-American contralto widely considered to be one of the most celebrated vocalists of the twentieth century. From singing in church as a child to her historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 to her debut with the Metropolitan Opera, Marian Anderson’s story is one of perseverance, triumph, and a remarkable talent and spirit. Pam Munoz Ryan’s text is captivating and moving, and Brian Selznick’s illustrations are rich and emotive. In addition to the story, the book also has notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of Marian Anderson’s life, and a selected discography of her works. This book would be a wonderful complement to any lesson about classical music in the early and mid-twentieth century, lending a personal and historical element to the subject.

 5. Snicket, Lemony. Illus. by Carson Ellis. The Composer is Dead. Harper Collins Publishers, 2009.

Medium: book (fictional story) and CD

Ages: 4 and up

The Composer is Dead is a silly, yet informative, introduction to the orchestra. In this story, a composer dies and the investigating Inspector goes to the orchestra to find the murderer. He talks to each section – strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion – but they all have alibis. Will he ever solve this musical mystery? In his interrogations, the Inspector learns about the instruments and the role each plays in the symphony, along with other useful information such as musical terminology and a long list of already-dead composers. In classic Lemony Snicket style, the text of The Composer is Dead is clever and fast-paced. Carson Ellis’ watercolor illustrations are fun and full of quirky details. The accompanying CD features a dramatic reading by the author with orchestral accompaniment. With its combination of whimsy and educational information, this book would be a terrific addition to any young music-lover’s library.


6. artsedge.kennedy-center.org/about.aspx – ARTSEDGE

Medium: interactive website with educational resources

Affiliated Organization: Kennedy Center

Ages: Kindergarten through 12th grade

ARTSEDGE is divided into three areas for educators, families, and students. Each of these areas has a seemingly endless amount of information! In addition to browsing hundreds of articles and “How To’s,” teachers can use the Lesson Finder to search for lesson plans and projects by keyword, subject, and grade level. Each lesson plan includes an overview, preparation guide, instructions, correlation to the National Standards for Arts Education, and links to related resources. There is also a Multimedia section containing 145 videos, podcasts, and other multimedia resources searchable by arts genre or media type. The Families section has articles for parents as well as features like the Kids’ Classical Countdown, an interactive top ten list of classical pieces for children. Students can browse through articles, slideshows, artist features, field guides (do’s and don’ts for attending performances), and “best stuff” lists by age, just to name a few.

7. www.SphinxKids.org

Medium: interactive website

Affiliated Organization: Sphinx Organization

Ages: 8 and up

Sphinx Kids is one of the Sphinx Organization’s educational resources. This website focuses on the orchestra, providing videos of each string instrument being played, photographs and sound clips of all orchestra instruments, and information about more than 60 composers. The Sphinx Organization focuses on promoting diversity within classical music and to this end, Sphinx Kids has a section dedicated to composers of color, as well as videos of Sphinx Organization alumni performing in concert. The website is well-designed and has fun interactive features, like the Orchestration Station, where the user can create an “orchestra” with instruments of their choosing and hear a piece played, and the Music Match games for instruments and composers. Any young aspiring musician would enjoy the Sphinx Kids website, and I would highly recommend it for students of color or music programs interested in increasing and promoting diversity.

8. www.NYPhilKids.org – Kidzone

Medium: interactive website

Affiliated Organization: New York Philharmonic

Ages: 8 and up

The New York Philharmonic Kidzone website is packed with interactive activities for children interested in music. Some are specific to the New York Philharmonic, like the Musician’s Lounge, which has cartoonish pictures of, and interviews with, each member of the orchestra, and a Frequently Asked Questions section with information about the NYP. (Did you know one of their former clarinet players holds the Guinness World Record for the “longest career as a clarinetist”? 62 years, seven months, and one day!) Kidzone also has a great deal of information about the instruments in the orchestra, composers, historical information, and fun facts about classical music. Creative children will particularly enjoy the Make Your Own Instrument feature, with instructions for creating 19 musical instruments out of household items, and the Composition Workshop where they can create and share their own works pieces.

9. www.classicalkusc.org/kids – Creative Kids Central

Medium: interactive website

Affiliated Organization: Creative Kids Education Foundation; Classical KUSC

Ages: 6 and up

Creative Kids Central provides a basic introduction to many forms of classical music, from solo vocal and instrumental performance to choral and chamber music. The highlights of the website are the three interactive games – Hansel and Gretel (opera), Brahms in 1890’s Vienna (chamber music), and Scheherazade (symphonic music) – in which children can design their own opera, help a young man round up musicians in time for a concert, and learn about musical themes and composition. The site provides many opportunities for parents to engage with their children and learn together, including a family listening activity. Creative Kids Central also has an exhaustive list of resources for children, parents, and teachers including websites, books, software, and lesson plans. While this website has a basic amount of information about forms of classical music, children will love (and learn from) the games and parents and teachers will be impressed with the resources and supplemental information.


10. www.carnegiehall.org/ORC/ – Online Resource Center

Medium: website with educational resources

Affiliated Organization: Carnegie Hall

Ages: Kindergarten through 12th grade

The Carnegie Hall Online Resource Center is a virtual library of resources for teachers and parents. A free membership provides access to a database of lesson plans and classroom materials, searchable by themes, skills, concepts, genres, instruments, and grade level. The ORC also has videos of master classes taught by professional musician and performances from Carnegie Hall’s concert series. Members also have access to an archive of interviews with artists in print, video, and live web chats. This website is primarily a resource for teachers and parents, but children will also enjoy fun educational games.

11. www.operaamerica.org/indexNOC.aspx – The National Opera Center America

Medium: website with educational resources

Affiliated Organization: The National Opera Center America

Ages: 8 and up

The NOCA’s Education, Audiences & Community Service web page has a wide variety of resources – some free, some not – for educating students about opera. The Learning Center provides access to databases of North American operas and operas for youth, as well as a glossary of operatic terms, descriptions of voice types, historical information, and a comprehensive list of operas and their details. The Opera & Arts Education Resources page provides an extensive list of resources for youth, including recommended reading for infants through 12th grade, recommending listening, websites, and research and reports. The NOCA’s Music! Words! Opera! curriculum allows members to purchase opera- and arts-related curricula, including textbooks, lesson plans, and DVDs. This would be an excellent resource for teachers and children in upper elementary school and up.


12. My First Classical Music App

Medium: App

Company: Naxos Digital Services, Ltd.

Device: iPad

Purchase: iTunes Store

Ages: 5 and up

From the iTunes Store:

“It’s the perfect introduction to classical music for children aged 5 and above.

Find out where you hear music, who writes it and what all the instruments sound like. Meet the great composers and be wowed by the orchestra.

Tap any words or pictures and hear the text narrated, extracts of music, and dozens of animations and sound effects. The animals can dance, sing and play!

Ideal for children to enjoy alone or together with a parent, this app is bursting with different pieces of music. It will fire the imagination of children and delight parents.

* An interactive iPad version of the hugely successful My First Classical Music Book, published by the world’s largest independent classical record company, Naxos.
* Three main sections: When? Where? / People / Instruments.
* Friendly, engaging narration – tap on any piece of text to hear it.
* Questions and ‘Listen For’ tips from the Music Bird: get more from the music.
* Over 40 different pieces of music featured, in excellent recordings.
* Every instrument in the orchestra is demonstrated.
* Lively, characterful illustrations throughout.”


13. My First Orchestra App

Medium: App

Company: Naxos Digital Services, Ltd.

Device: iPad

Purchase: iTunes Store

Ages: 4 and up

From the iTunes Store:

“It’s the perfect introduction to the orchestra for children aged 4 and above.

The orchestra is the most amazing musical team! Come and explore all the instruments in this stylish sequel to Naxos’s My First Classical Music App.

In this brand new app, there is a very special guide to the orchestra: a little green creature called Tormod. He is a troll who has come from the top of a mountain in Norway to find out about music! Can you help him find his way home while he shows you round the orchestra?

Every instrument has its own page, with a young performer playing a solo. Tormod will show you all these, and sometimes he might even try the instruments himself! He’s only a beginner though…

Tap any words or pictures and hear the text narrated, extracts of music, animations and sound effects.

This unique and exciting app from the world’s largest independent classical record company is full of different pieces of music in excellent audio quality.

– A brand new sequel to Naxos’s hugely successful My First Classical Music App.
– Every instrument in the orchestra featured with an animated performer.
– Beautiful illustrations created specially for this app.
– A characterful guide: Tormod the Troll.
– Friendly, engaging narration – tap on any piece of text to hear it.
– Activities: Have a go at the quiz, see if you can name the instruments, and have a go at conducting.
– A full album of music with over 40 different pieces featured throughout the app, in excellent recordings.”


 14. Sounds of the Orchestra App

Medium: App

Company: Smappsoft

Device: iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch

Purchase: iTunes Store

Ages: 1 to 7

From the iTunes Store:

“Sounds of the Orchestra is a fun way for children, parents, teachers, and anyone with an interest in music to learn about the classical musical instruments that comprise the orchestra. Everyone will enjoy the wide variety of playing, learning, and listening activities:

-Play a card matching game to test your memory and listening skills by pairing instruments by picture and sound.
-Tap on the colorful soundboard to learn the sounds of each instrument, or quiz yourself to train your ear to recognize them.
-Explore the four sections of the orchestra, and learn about the individual instruments within each one while listening to some beautiful classical musical favorites.

Sounds of the Orchestra is fun for the whole family, and great for use in any musical education environment.

Mozart began composing when he was only five years old! We hope that Sounds Of The Orchestra will inspire the next generation of musicians, and make learning about music fun for everyone.”

15. ZOOLA Children’s Classics Sampler

Medium: App

Company: INBAL Tal

Device: iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch

Purchase: iTunes Store

Ages: 2 to 7

From the iTunes Store:

“With adorable animals, playing the greatest musical creations (Swan lake, Nutcracker, Lullaby…), “ZOOLA children’s Classics” will not only introduce your child to classical music, it will make your child fall in love with it.

Even adults can’t stay indifferent to the cute dog playing “Mozart piano sonata” on the piano, the funny hippopotamous playing “Peter and the wolf” on the clarinet, the fluffy squirrel playing “Swan Lake” on the flute, and many more talented friends.

“ZOOLA children’s Classics” will teach your child the basic information about the musical instruments of the orchestra. How they look, how they sound, what they made of and how you play them.

“ZOOLA children’s Classics” will also introduce your child to interesting information about the great composers. Did you know that Beethoven composed his best music after he became deaf? Did you know that No one really knew much about Bach until 100 years after he died?

In this app you will find a basic biography of the greatest composers life, where they came from, how they grew up and what are their most famous pieces.”

Educational Programming

16. Symphony for Simple Simon

Medium: educational programming offered by community organization

Affiliated Organization: Women’s Symphony League of Austin

Website: http://www.wslaustin.org/?page_id=174

Ages: pre-K through 3rd grade

From the WSL website: “Symphony for Simple Simon is a fun musical production performed by League members to introduce the symphony to children. Aimed at pre-K through 3rd grade students, the musical, the booklet, and CD are tools for achieving music education objectives. Phil Harmonic teaches Simple Simon and the children about different instruments, demonstrating the sounds and playing techniques of each.”

Additional information:

  • Nationally recognized educational program.
  • Accompanying booklet and CD.
  • Abbreviated program and materials available in Spanish.

17. Austin Symphony James C. Armstrong Youth Education Endowment Public Programs

Medium: educational programming offered by community organization

Affiliated Organization: Austin Symphony

Website: http://www.austinsymphony.org/education

Ages: pre-K through high school

From the Austin Symphony website: “Nationally recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Symphony Orchestra League, the ASO’s James C. Armstrong Youth Education Endowment have been chosen as one of the nine most outstanding and innovative music education programs in the nation.

These award-winning programs touch the lives of more than 90,000 young people each year, giving children — toddlers to teenagers, an introduction to symphonic music. The ASO takes musicians into the classrooms, brings students into the concert hall, provides study guides for teachers, and gives many young people a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go backstage, meet the masters and play with a professional orchestra! These programs are often the beginning of a lifelong association with the arts.”

Additional information:

  • Nationally recognized educational program.
  • Programming options range from interactive in-class demonstrations of instruments to concerts using video cameras and a giant projection screen to give the audience a real-time look at the inner workings of an orchestral production. Students can also “participate in live video conferences with Austin Symphony musicians” (per website).
  • The “Discover & Explore the Instruments” section of the website has animations and sound clips giving information about the different sections of the symphony orchestra.
  • High school students can get discounted tickets to symphony performances.

18. Austin Lyric Opera’s Opera Treasure Chest & Opera by Night Programs

Medium: educational programming offered by community organization

Affiliated Organization: Austin Lyric Opera

Website: http://www.austinlyricopera.org/community/

Ages: K through 4th grade

From the ALO Website:Opera Treasure Chest, a TEKS-aligned Opera Education program, is an interdisciplinary curriculum that provides music and opera related learning experiences that reinforce academic skills. The programming brings high-quality, hands-on programming to children in grades K-4.

The Opera by Night program offers over 5,000 free tickets to students, parents and teachers to attend ALO dress rehearsals. Prior to each Opera by Night performance, ALO distributes educational packets to teachers at participating schools, helping familiarize students with the opera and have a more meaningful and enjoyable experience.”

Additional Information:

  • Students can get discounted tickets to performances.

19. Music Memory

Medium: music education curriculum

Affiliated Organization: arts education IDEAS

Website: http://www.musicmemoryideas.com/index.html

Ages: 3rd through 6th grade

From the Music Memory website: “MUSIC MEMORY is a nationally-recognized curriculum designed to give the life-long gift of love for music of the Western tradition through an in-depth study of 16 selections per year. Music that you will hear the rest of your lives is carefully chosen for appropriateness from five major historical periods— Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary. Prominent composers of orchestral, vocal, choral, keyboard and jazz pieces are featured. The curriculum is presented in an aural-visual format that enhances success in recognizing the major themes and remembering the names and composers of the selections. Building on this initial learning, there are many opportunities for deepening knowledge through extension activities. MUSIC MEMORY is successfully taught across the United States.”

Additional Information:

  • Materials include: lesson plans, maps, background information on composers and works, CDs, and more.
  • Also available to students in independent schools and homeschooled students.
  • Students who score well on test can participate in competitions.


20. Classics for Kids

Medium: radio program and website

Affiliated Organization: WGUC 90.9 FM

Website: http://www.classicsforkids.com/

Ages: 5 and up

Classics for Kids is a weekly radio program and interactive website dedicated to promoting classical music education for children. The radio program, aimed specifically at children, is broadcast on 24 stations around the country and is available online and in podcast form, as well. One composer is featured every month, and each show’s topic is related to the composer of the month. The radio program episodes are five minutes long and are entertaining and informative, often using humor and interesting details to keep the listener engaged. In addition to the radio program, the Classics for Kids website provides a wealth of resources about classical music for children to students, parents, and teachers. Students can browse through information about more than 90 composers from the past one thousand years, learn about instruments in the orchestra, listen to interviews with professional musicians, and play musical games. Parents and teachers can find lesson plans, tips and advice, and suggestions of books and videos to expand further on the topics.

21. “How to Get Kids Into Classical Music”

Medium: video and lesson idea

Affiliated Organization: Collective Cadenza (CDZA)

Website: www.cdzamusic.com/ ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLSUHj8HTiA&list=UUzdbnf-pIJh-Qp6fdSb5ezw&index=3&feature=plcp

Ages: 6 and up

CDZA’s “How to Get Kids Into Classical Music” video presents a fun activity to help children connect with classical music – setting the lyrics of their favorite pop songs to classical tunes. According to CDZA, this will not only make classical music appeal to students who may otherwise not be interested, but it will also offer an “entry point to teach… students the fundamentals of music” (per description on CDZA’s YouTube channel). Teachers and students can explore structural similarities and conventions between the classical piece and pop song that make them good (or bad) candidates for a mashup.

22. Bleeckie Streetie’s Videos

Medium: videos for children

Website: www.bleeckie.com/#!bleeckies-vids

Ages: 3 to 10

Bleeckie is an Emmy-nominated five-year-old puppet who lives in Dallas, Texas. Bleeckie loves to learn, have fun, and make videos for her website. Her videos are all fun and engaging, and there are three in particular that would be useful in teaching children about classical music. In the first video, “Backstage with Bleeckie” (video #1), Bleeckie has just listened to Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and is excited to go to her first symphony concert. At the concert hall, she gets lost and accidentally goes back stage where she makes friends with members of the orchestra who demonstrate their instruments for her. In “Bleeckie’s Justin Bieber Inspired Classical Music Adventure” (video #11), Bleeckie learns that classical music can be just as cool as her favorite pop music. In “Bleeckie’s Canon” (video #14), Bleeckie composes a song sung to the tune of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Bleeckie’s enthusiasm and personality will add some fun to any musical lesson.

23. “Peter and the Wolf” (Disney)

Medium: cartoon

Website: http://youtu.be/z5tpMmVcFY4

Ages: 6 and up

In this Disney film short, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf tells the story of Peter, a mischievous young boy, who tries to outwit a wolf. Written as a musical suite for children, Peter and the Wolf is performed by a symphony orchestra and a narrator who tells the story while the music plays. Each character in the story has their own theme which listeners learn to identify during the piece. Classic Disney animation adds whimsy and fun while the narration teaches children basic music composition and theory elements.


 24. “Bugs and Daffy’s Carnival of the Animals” (Looney Tunes)

Medium: cartoon

Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzdr0UsJj4U

Ages: 6 and up

Pianists Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck perform Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals with a symphony orchestra. Ogden Nash’s poems are interspersed along with animal animations among the movements and all the while, Bugs and Daffy compete for attention and applause. Carnival of the Animals is a popular piece to use when introducing children to classical music. Saint-Saens’ wonderful use of imagery and thematic elements paint beautiful musical pictures of each animal, allowing children to “see” the music. This particular version is especially useful with younger children who may not be able to sit still and listen to a recording, but will be engaged by the animation and antics.

25. Deceptive Cadence Blog

Medium: blog

Affiliated Organization: NPR

Website: http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/

Ages: n/a

Deceptive Cadence has many blog entries dedicated to children and classical music. These articles are written by different authors, including professional musicians, and discuss children and classical musical from a variety of perspectives. These articles would be useful in planning lessons and talking to children about classical music.

Relevant Blog Entries:








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