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Top 5 Pieces of Music To Listen To With Your Kids


One of the greatest pleasures on earth for me is sitting down with no distractions and listening to a fantastic piece of music. This developed in me from a young age when my parents would put music on in the car on long journeys.

In those days, it would be a slightly battered tape which occasionally jumped if the car hit a bump in the road.

I can distinctly remember that wonderful feeling of watching life speed by me to a soundtrack of imaginative and creative sounds.

As funding continues to be cut from music education in schools it is becoming increasingly more important that we, as parents, integrate the joy of music into our children's lives and continue a dialogue with them about it.

So, here are my top 5 pieces of music to inspire your kids minds, introduce them to the delights of different instruments and genres and provoke some great family discussions.

1. Peter and The Wolf

In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev wrote the music to "Peter and the Wolf". The story is played out by different instruments in the orchestra as the narrator tells the tale.

Each character in the story is represented by a different instrument, which is a great way for children to begin to recognize the different sounds and timbres inherent in an orchestra.

There are some fantastic versions of this story, narrated by voices such as David Bowie, Boris Karloff, Ben Kingsley, Sting, an updated version set in Los Angeles with Alice Cooper and a jazz big band version with David Tennant. The version I loved as a child had the dulcet tones of Sean Connery narrating and it still makes me smile today when I hear it.

2. Jazz For Kids

This is a firm family favourite in our car. Filled with cheeky, fun versions of children's songs, played by jazz legend's such as Ella Fitzgerald, Slim Gaillard, Louis Armstrong and Blossom Dearie.

This is a great chance for children to feel the syncopation of Jazz rhythms and listen to the different instrumentation involved. It always provokes sing a longs and thigh slapping beats in our car on long journeys.

3. Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra

Written by Benjamin Britten in 1945, this piece of music is played to the listener by the whole orchestra and then is broken down into the different sections, before being built back up again.

This is a great way of getting inside the workings of an orchestra and understanding the component parts needed to compose orchestral music. You are also guided through the different variations with a narrator (again, I had Sean Connery narrating this on the B side of my lovingly overplayed cassette!).

4. Film Soundtracks

This is always a brilliant way to get kids listening to music, as they will have already had their imagination's opened by watching the film first.

There are so many magical film composers, but John Williams is always a great place to start. He's written the music to some of the best loved family movies, including Star Wars, E.T, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and many many more.

5. Carnival Of The Animals

Written by Camille Saint-Saens at the end of the 19th Century, this is a musical procession of different animals including Donkeys, Cuckoos, Swans and more unusually, Fossils.