Classical's little barometers

May 26, 2016

Our listeners have been mining the daily world for classical gems. And boy, have they unearthed some in unusual places! We may never know who programmed that washing machine to do Schubert, or that cell phone to play Tarrega. But it's been fun discovering them.

For me, there's one place to find classical music that's almost more touching than any other. Not under the stars, or in some fantastic ancient theater, but in the lives of little children. They engage with it in a spectacular way. When I was little, my mother always seemed happy to see me dancing to her piano practicing. I think I was kind of a human barometer as to whether she'd hit upon the right character and tempo.

And kids can really pick up on how to listen, too. Just look at this little girl watching a chorus rehearsal:

Or this three-year-old conducting Beethoven:

That fresh, direct feeling for music comes out in the visual arts, too. Major artists spend a lot of time trying to recapture the sheer spontaneity that comes from children's art. I remember one professional artist noticing a notebook that my 9-year-old was drawing in and offering me money for it! It was full of long-limbed women and confident lines. (I said no.)

In a way, kid's bodies are just waiting for the thrill  and the complexity of great art. It's a joyful connection. One of our listeners sent a great little video of her son listening to Mozart emanating from one of his toys. I love the way he listens - total focus:

This summer, when the Landmarks Orchestra does its summer concerts at the Hatch Shell, watch the space up near the front, right under the stage. You'll spot grinning little conductors and tiny dancers of wild abandon.

Now THAT's a foundation worth building on - the kind of listening that goes straight to the spirit and bursts into dance!