Thursday, October 2, 2008

If it's not Baroque, don't fix it

* Originally posted on November 3, 2007

Korsakov vs. Handel

Wow… I never knew the impact that different styles of "Classical" music would make on my children. This term’s composer study has been on the Russian Nationalists, specifically Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The girls have enjoyed it immensely. We have listened to his music every Friday during school, we have done research on him and his music, we have watched You Tube videos (don’t worry, I previewed them beforehand) of incredible musicians playing “Flight of the Bumblebee”, we’ve listened to a radio program of “Tsar of Saltan” on Classics for Kids and we’ve done a wonderful little online study of "Scheherazade".

Whew!... if we don’t know Korsakov’s music by now, we’re in serious trouble! Really, the girls have loved it and I have truly enjoyed the studies, too! I asked Ava this week if she remembered our composer’s name that we’ve been studying (just trying to make sure this is sinking into the 5 year old). She answered very proudly, “DaVinci Korsakov!” I tried so hard not to laugh at her morphing this term’s artist with this term’s composer… it was great! At least, both subjects have been sinking in! :)

After looking into the other Russian Nationalist’s music, Modest Mussorgsky, and after reading many posts from the AO yahoo group, we’ve decided to skip his music. Most of his pieces are very “dark” (Not that Korsakov’s were necessarily “light”). “Night on Bald Mountain” has to do with witchcraft, and the piece just sounds plain creepy to me. So, after consulting Erich, we are moving past our Russian composers and starting on our term 2 composer: Georg Friedrich Handel.

What a bright spot of our morning when I turned on his music!! I first asked the girls if they could tell by his name where he was born. Caroline raised her hand enthusiastically and said, “GERMANY!” Good job, Caroline… having a German-blooded daddy with the name spelling of “Erich” has taught you to recognize other German spellings! :)

The other wonderful thing about our composer study was the difference in the girls’ countenance when I played Handel. When I would play Korsakov, they would look very contemplative… but when I played Handel, they both got up and started dancing like ballerinas. Twirling and curtseying around the room to Concerti Grossi op.3 No.1-6 (no, I don’t know what that piece’s title is in English) put such a smile on my face. :)

I asked the girls the main differences they found between Korsakov and Handel, and they had very good answers.

For Korsakov, they came up with descriptions like: Strong, mighty, fierce, loud, like soldiers marching.

For Handel, they said: Light, quiet, joyful, sounds like fairies dancing, reminds me of The Nutcracker… makes me want to dance! :)

I know many studies have shown how the music we listen to affects what we feel and think in either a positive or a negative way. I’m certainly not trying to imply that Korsakov’s music was negative… but seeing what a positive impact Handel’s music conjured up in their little spirits, it was so obvious to me that not only do I need to continue to protect what my children see (i.e., T.V., commercials, movies, internet, etc.) but also to make sure I’m protecting what they listen to (i.e., music lyrics, certain music types that are “harsh”, etc.).

There’s just something wonderful that happens when you listen to Handel’s “Messiah”, that you know your spirit is being fed with something God-honoring. May we all make sure that we are feeding our eyes and ears with things that are pure as Phil. 4:8 instructs: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things."

So far, we really like Handel… I love the music of Bach & Vivaldi, (wonderful Baroque composers) and Mozart & Beethoven (my other favorites who were influenced by Baroque music), so I’m sure studying the Baroque period of music is going to be a big hit in the family! Studying “Classical” music and the mastermind composers of late has been a real treat so far. I understand why Charlotte Mason found that subject to be an important one in nurturing a child’s “whole-hearted education”. Homeschooling rocks!!! :) Have a blessed day!

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